As a fee-for-service financial planner, I have luxury of looking at investment portfolios in an unbiased manner. In so doing, it becomes easier – but by no means “easy” – to see when assets are over-concentrated in a portfolio. However, commenting on the over-concentration of an investment is one thing; convincing a client to act upon it is quite another. I wonder how many clients I spoke with last year (prior to the pandemic meltdown and economically-unsupported rebound) are still sitting on huge swaths of employer stock holdings, cash, real estate and other often over-concentrated positions.

 

Click here to read the full article on The Globe and Mail

This wonderful article describes the difficulties faced by working mothers in the US who are trying to “balance” the needs of isolated children and a work-from-home ideal. It also offers some interesting suggestions to help us manage through this time.

Closer to home, FP Canada recently published a study of COVID-related financial stress which also identified a gender gap in the pressures felt by men and women. In their study, women are 17% more likely to say that their level of financial stress has been impacted by COVID-19. Furthermore, unlike the recessions of the past – which disproportionately affect male-dominated fields such as manufacturing and construction – COVID-19 has devastated mostly female-dominated fields such as education, childcare and the service industry.

 

Click here to read the full article on Entrepreneur

No one knows what tomorrow will bring but managing your finances to provide stability and limit your tax exposure are two ways to take control of your life.

 

Click here to read the full article on The Globe and Mail

The countdown to the start of the new school year is upon us. If your children are like mine, they are approaching Labour Day with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Aren’t we all.

For university students, we must also contend with how to pay for their studies. Most are antiquated with the Registered Education Savings Plan which is described well in Tim Cestnick’s article but few are acquainted with the withdrawal strategies that can help you and your child save tax.

In a nutshell, if you child is likely to use up the entire account or if a sibling can use any funds that are left over, there is little planning to be done. You may just want to keep the taxable portion of the withdrawals (the so-called Education Assistance Payment or EAP) at or below the basic personal amount which is $13,229 for 2020. Any withdrawals in excess of this amount should come from the subscriber’s contributions to the account – which can be received by your child tax-free.

However, if you have been a diligent saver, or if your children’s education costs are lower than expected, and your child might not use up the entire RESP, it would be best to ensure that the EAP is exhausted by the time your child/ren complete their studies. This will ensure that any money that remains in the account can be refunded to you on a tax-free basis.

For more information on RESP withdrawal strategies, please feel free to contact me at monique@upotential.com.

 

Click here to read the full article on The Globe and Mail

My professional college, FP Canada, released its updated Assumption Guidelines at the end of April. I was surprised to see that the assumption they would have us use dropped from 2.1% for 2019 to 2.0% for 2020. I would have expected inflation to go up as inventories dropped and Canadians scrambled for goods and services through the pandemic. This article is a good reminder of how diversified the Consumer Price Index is and how pent-up demand in some areas are balanced by accumulating inventories in other areas.

 

Click here to read the full article on Reuters

Hindsight is 20/20. Although reading an article like this (written just a month before the world seemed to shut down due to the pandemic) can be amusing; the moral is sound: challenges are inevitable and we must prepare for them.

 

Click here to read the full article on Business Insider

The message of this article is (unfortunately) universal right now: “don’t touch your face, don’t touch your (edit: 401k) RRSP.”

 

Click here to read the full article on Today

Long ago, I resigned to the fact that I am in charge of very little in my life. Markets will move up and down with little input from me. Viruses will spread across countries and continents in a manner beyond my control. But for many years we have been told that the one thing we have influence over is our own response to stressors such as markets and health crises and that these responses can have a very significant impact on our health. Here is an article that explains how our perceptions of external stressors and our reaction to them can affect how we age.

 

Click here to read the full article on TED Ideas

One of the most contentious issues for separating spouses and common-law partners is how to support two households when many had difficulty managing one. In costly cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, purchasing separate properties can be down-right impossible. A recent change to the treatment of the Home Buyer’s Plan upon relationship breakdown may ease the burden.

 

Click here to read the full article on The Common Sense Divorce

Planning for your aging years is a big part of what we do. Aside from increasing my clients’ budget to accommodate the costs of assisted living or personal supports, there are other considerations that we discuss in our meetings. Among these is the issue of whether the current home is suitable for “aging in place” (a term used to express one’s desire to age in their home rather than moving to a retirement residence) and how the client will stay vital and engaged when he or she steps away from the workforce. I often use a phrase that the authors used: “make sure that you are retiring to something and not from something”.

Perhaps the greatest takeaway from this article is the idea many of these decisions should be made years in advance – or “with a cool head” as I usually refer to it. This helps to avoid a crisis when someone suddenly falls ill. I also encourage family meetings on some of these topics so that the family members can understand what you expect of them and what is important to you before they are put in the position to make decisions for you.

 

Click here to read the full article on Forbes