When the government of Canada offered retirees the opportunity to reduce their minimum RRIF withdrawal because of investment markets’ reaction to the pandemic, you might recall that I suggested keeping the withdrawal at its usual level. My reasoning was that taking out the same dollar amount requires deregistering more units of a depreciated mutual fund or ETFs which could allow you to reinvest the proceeds in a TFSA or non-registered account. In this strategy, you are essentially pre-paying the tax at a lower rate because of the prevailing market softness.

This article expands on that strategy for small business owners who probably have seen revenues decline or drop off as a result of the pandemic. If your business revenue has suffered in 2020, you may wish to draw out income from other sources (additional dividends from a private corporation or RRSP withdrawals, for example) at a time when your salary is artificially low.


Click here to read the full article on Entrepreneur

Many home-owners – especially young ones – still think that they can make money by buying homes, renovating and trading up periodically. There continue to be many arguments for and against this strategy. In support of this strategy is the concern about the future of the principal residence exemption – the rule that exempts the appreciation of one personally-occupied residence per household from capital gains taxes. Home renovations could increase the adjusted cost base of the property in some cases; meaning that renovations could reduce capital gains taxes if the principal residence exemption is changed or rescinded.

Contrary to this renovation strategy is the oft-forgotten yet inevitable costs of selling a home which can be estimated at roughly 10% of the value of the home. These costs of sale typically include: realtor fees (5 – 6% of the home’s value), legal and other fees as well as the actual costs of moving. Historically, home values have increased with inflation despite the perception that home prices outpace inflation. At the current inflation rate of 2% per year, it would take just under 5 years to recoup the costs of selling the home; threatening the utility of this buy, renovate and trade-up strategy.


Click here to read the full article on The Star

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