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The Mortgage vs. Savings Dilemma

The Mortgage vs. Savings Dilemma

After all the bills are paid, we sometimes find ourselves with a surplus of cash and wondering how best to use it. Your options for available cash fall into three categories: spend it, invest it, or pay down debt. Trying to balance saving as much as possible while still trying to pay down a mortgage can be stressful and somewhat…
Do Nothing With Your Inheritance – for Now.

Do Nothing With Your Inheritance – for Now.

Occasionally, we may receive a windfall - a large, unexpected sum of money. In most cases, these windfalls come from inheritances, usually from parents or grandparents. The fact is, the money usually comes as a result of hard work and a series of prudent investment choices over time. This gift implies a level of responsibility to honour the legacy of…
9 Retirement Lies People Tell You

9 Retirement Lies People Tell You

Have you heard about the Silver Tsunami? Like a real tsunami, you often don't see it until it's washing over you! Here are a few facts to consider: The leading edge of the Boomers turned 65 in 2012. On average, 1,250 Canadians turn 65 years old every single day. No wonder the OAS office is so busy! The fact is that…
5 Ways to Be Smart When the Markets Drop

5 Ways to Be Smart When the Markets Drop

We all love market volatility - as long as it is on the upside!.  Unfortunately, history has shown us that every bull market is often followed by an aggressive bear market.   Sometimes the market falls hard and fast, but that doesn’t have to mean catastrophe. Being smart when times are tough can be just as lucrative as being smart when…
Making Your Mark

Making Your Mark

The work is almost done. You’ve accumulated a nest egg that will assure the retirement lifestyle you planned for. The golf course beckons, as does that year-long world cruise.  You are happy – or are you?  I like to focus on the positive, but we need to address a disturbing trend - traditional retirement often fosters decay and depression.  The problem is simple. Human beings are goal oriented and hard-wired to help…
RRSP or TFSA?

RRSP or TFSA?

Life is too precious to fret over decisions that should be simple. The decision on whether to invest in your RRSP or TFSA is no exception. Let's bring some clarity! The Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) or a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) debate affects most investors and often, the answer involves a combination of both RRSP and TFSA. If…
Pay Down Mortgage or Top Up TFSA?

Pay Down Mortgage or Top Up TFSA?

The problem with accumulating more wealth is in deciding what to do with your excess cash. The biggest question has always been: "contribute to investments or pay off the mortgage?" Opting for both, reducing debt and increasing savings, is the ideal. As for which is better, however, really depends on the you, your goals,  feelings and your unique financial situation.…
The Relationship Between Health and Wealth

The Relationship Between Health and Wealth

A man who has his health has a thousand dreams. The man who doesn't have his health has but one Author unknown As many of us know, financial stress can impact many areas of our lives. A study conducted by Fidelity in collaboration with Stanford University found that the worse financial shape we are in the more likely we are…
The Financial Procrastination Breakthrough

The Financial Procrastination Breakthrough

Everybody procrastinates about something You are not alone. We all think that others have it together, but the truth is that we are all financial procrastinators. From years of experience with clients, I know that reality and perception can be totally different. In varying degrees, we all have masks that hide the full truth of our personal lives. When we…
The 6D Tax Planning Approach

The 6D Tax Planning Approach

I am told that the full version of our Federal Income Tax Act is more than 3,000 pages. I don't believe it. If you've ever tried to look something up on the CRA website, you'll understand that it has almost infinite dimensions! This also does not account for the various provincial tax regimes. Although we have what is known as…
Will Someone Please Teach the Kids About Money?

Will Someone Please Teach the Kids About Money?

Over the years spent teaching financial planning courses, I could count on two common comments: I should have taken this course years ago. My children should take this course. Although we’re not currently offering our courses, we are reaching out through WealthSmarts to help people more effectively reach their goals through sound wealth management. Our reader feedback again returned to…
Dollar-Cost Averaging – the Right Thing to Do

Dollar-Cost Averaging – the Right Thing to Do

Dollar Cost Averaging (DCA) is a simple systematic approach to buying investments.  DCA tempers the volatility of your investment portfolio by breaking down large investments into smaller ones over time. Instead of buying a large single investment all at once, the intended purchase is parceled into smaller pieces and spread over a period of time. Let’s review what that entails.…
Put Your Eggs in All the Baskets

Put Your Eggs in All the Baskets

Part 4 of the series: Rethink the Way You Invest. There is little predictability in asset class performance from one year to the next. The moment anyone tells you differently, run quickly in the opposite direction! At the bottom of the market in March of 2009, I had opinions from all sides – clients, other advisors, analysts, and the numerous…
Failure of the Really Smart People

Failure of the Really Smart People

Part 3 of the series: Rethink the Way You Invest. The Roman philosopher and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero once said: “time destroys the speculation of men, but it confirms nature.” Time has not eroded the relevance of these words, especially in regards to the financial markets. The longer the time frame, the more abysmal our track record in successfully picking…

The Transformational and Annoying Power of “Why”?

The Transformational and Annoying Power of “Why”?

Most of us have forgotten life’s shortest and most transformational question: “Why?” As children we’ve learned important life lessons by asking “why?” almost nonstop until we think we’re smart enough (usually when we become teenagers!). Then one day, we stop asking. Perhaps we have become so fatigued at hearing our younger siblings, children or grandchildren ask “why?” that we tend…
Financial Education in the Workplace

Financial Education in the Workplace

Financial education in the workplace is more important than you may think. The most valuable resource most companies have is their employees. If financial stress reduces productivity, doesn't it make sense to do something about that? “According to the 2014 Financial Planning Standards Council survey, we know that worries about personal finances are at the top of the list when…
Financial literacy, the answer to your problems?

Financial literacy, the answer to your problems?

Financial problems are the leading cause of personal stress. This affects our physical and mental health, our family relationships and our productivity at work. I could complicate this, but we all intuitively know it’s true, because of our own experience. Our government has an excellent resource in response to the National Strategy for Financial Literacy report with a vision to…
8 Ways to Screw Up Your Wealth

8 Ways to Screw Up Your Wealth

Part 9 of the series: Rethink the Way You Invest. We have access to investment technology today that Warren Buffett could only have dreamt of several decades ago! In today’s sophisticated marketplace, investors have all the information, advice, and tools they need to help them grow wealth effectively. With these resources at hand, it would seem natural that people could…

Don’t Tell Me to Calm Down!

Don’t Tell Me to Calm Down!

Part 8 of the series: Rethink the Way You Invest. Despite all our efforts to deal logically with our money, we all fail to some degree or another. Emotions can destroy your wealth. Behavioral finance examines the influence of social beliefs, psychology, and emotion on economic decision making. Research suggests that humans are not naturally wired for making good investment decisions,…

Don’t Confuse Entertainment with Advice

Don’t Confuse Entertainment with Advice

Part 7 of the series: Rethink the Way You Invest. I love the media! It entertains, informs and keeps people accountable. Freedom of the media is enshrined in most democratic constitutions. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states it well: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and…

Investment costs do matter!

Investment costs do matter!

Part 6 of the series: Rethink the Way You Invest. Sheep that we are, investors have been following the herd lately and buying stocks now that we’re feeling a bit better about the economy. Eight years ago, we began fleeing stocks as prices dropped throughout the great credit crisis. This is as illogical as stocking up on toilet paper at…

Smart Diversification

Smart Diversification

Part 5 of the series: Rethink the Way You Invest. I’m a very patriotic Canadian. Although I love to travel outside our borders, it’s always great returning to the true north, strong and free. During a trip to Europe five years ago, the Canadian flags on our backpacks attracted nothing but positive feedback about our great country. Having said that,…
No Free Lunch

No Free Lunch

Part 2 of the series: Rethink the Way You Invest. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” This phrase was misattributed to the economist Milton Friedman but its origin actually dates back to a 19th century practice in American bars of offering a free lunch to entice the more lucrative drinking customers. There was usually no real net bargain…

Shaken or Stirred?

Shaken or Stirred?

This line has belonged to Sean Connery since first spoken in Ian Fleming’s 1962 production, “Dr. No.” Since that time, many of us have only fantasized about his travels to exotic places, living life on the edge, playing with cool toys and, because I’m a happily married man, I’ll just stop there! In the twisted mind of the financial advisor…

Keep Calm and Let the Markets Work

Keep Calm and Let the Markets Work

Part 1 of the Series: Rethink the Way You Invest You’ve no doubt seen more than your fair share of the “Keep Calm” slogans on the internet. What you may not know is that the original slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster was printed by the British Government in 1939 in preparation for WW II and the widely predicted…

Rethink the way you invest

Rethink the way you invest

Most people never achieve their financial dreams. Why? In many cases, it’s because they never understand how long-term wealth is created. They assume that investment success depends on picking a hot stock, finding an all-star investment manager, or avoiding market downturns. What we’ve found though is that the harder we try to beat the markets, the more we fail. This…

Lemmings & Wall Street

Lemmings & Wall Street

The lemming gets a bad rap! Common error says that these arctic rodents mindlessly jump off cliffs to drown in the ocean below. We further insult them by labeling people who blindly follow the crowd as “lemmings.” The truth is that lemmings instinctively know when their population is getting too dense and will form large groups to migrate to a…

How Long Will This Take?

How Long Will This Take?

Part 10 of the series: Rethink the Way You Invest. Few of us remember being toddlers, but many of us sure remember raising them! “Johnny, put that down! Mary, stay inside the yard and Tommy, stop chasing Mary! For goodness sake kids, could you all please settle down!” Sorry parents, they will never settle down but will instead become more “grown…