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Renting vs. Buying a Home

Housing prices have been climbing quickly. This is especially true in major urban centres where most Canadians live. The rate of increase for the average sale price appears to be climbing faster than people are able to save.

Some Canadians see the dream of homeownership vanishing, others wonder if the choice to own is appropriate for them. No matter the situation, objective analysis should accompany the emotional aspects of buying a home.

What You Need to Know

Regardless of the ultimate choice, affordability is an important decision criterium. No one has ever enjoyed being “house poor”, where little money is left after making your rental or mortgage payment. Based on household income and available down payment a maximum purchase price can be determined.

Every Canadian financial institution has an online calculator to determine mortgage payments. Mortgage providers employ additional analysis tools to predict whether a borrower will repay the lender based on their income, total expenses and financial history. If lenders are reluctant or refusing to provide a mortgage, perhaps the timing is not appropriate, yet.

Mortgage rates have been at the extreme low end of their range for several years as central banks around the world have attempted to revive economies through inexpensive borrowing. When interest rates are low more people and businesses can afford to borrow more. When something is on-sale people buy more, but for borrowing, you cannot decide to delay a purchase when prices rise. Payments must still be made.

At some point rates will rise and some homeowners may not be able to afford their new, higher payments. Before buying their first home, borrowers should ask themselves, “if mortgage rates rose by 2%, would I be still able to afford my payments?”. For example, a $400,000 loan with an additional 2% interest adds $8,000 interest charges per year, or $667 more each month.

That increase would sit atop the existing mortgage payment. The same $400,000 mortgage with a 25-year amortization and 2.25% 5-year fixed rate requires a monthly payment of $1,750. Each additional $100,000 adds another $450 per month to the payment.

Lenders typically limit housing costs to 35% of gross income, acquiring a mortgage will ultimately decide if you purchase and the price. If you earn $100,000 then your maximum housing costs are $35,000 per year. Subtracting property taxes, condo fees and utilities will determine the amount available for mortgage payments. If these costs totaled $14,000, then a maximum of $21,000 would remain for mortgage payments. $21,000 divided by 12 equals $1,750 per month, yielding your maximum mortgage of $400,000.

A down payment is also required; the more the better. At least 10%, but 20% is preferred to keep payments lower. In the examples above with a $400,000 mortgage a first-time home buyer should plan on a down payment of at least $50,000 netting a purchase price of $450,000.

An experiment to determine if home ownership is appropriate is to act as a homeowner while renting. That is, make housing costs equal 35% of gross income. Set aside exactly 35% each month, pay your rent and utilities and the rest goes directly into a savings account, an RRSP or TFSA. Set up the deposit like a monthly bill that is paid automatically. If you are able to practice this disciplined spending/saving approach you are able to live at 35%, if not habits may need to be changed or a more modest home purchase should be contemplated.

Continuing the example of $100,000 income, then $35,000 per year or $2,920 should go toward rent, utilities and savings. If rent is $1,800 and utilities are $150 set up an auto-deposit for $970 each month. At the end of one year, you will have nearly $12,000 more set aside. At the very least this test should increase the amount of your down payment.

While you are accumulating your down payment the type of investments you purchase and sheltering it from taxes is also important. First time homebuyers can withdraw funds from their RRSPs, for example. Certain conditions apply, of course.

The Bottom Line

A dangerous emotion during a period of rapid rises in house prices is desperation. “If we don’t buy now, we’ll never be able to afford a home” has led many to overextend themselves financially. After that has occurred owning again can be almost impossible.

Couple the dreams of home ownership with objective analysis to determine the best course of action. Prudently investing your down payment in a tax advantaged way is another important aspect of the home buying and ownership experience. We are happy to help with calculations, scenarios, timing, negotiation advice with lenders and investment recommendations.

Book an appointment with us today! – CLICK HERE

Tax Matters for HNW

The view about high-net-worth people is they probably have too much and don’t bother about taxes. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. HNW people are just like everyday people. They bleed cash like every other regular Canadian. High net worth people are also entitled to tax benefits on their money just like every other Canadian. As a high-net-worth individual who moves financial assets from one place to the other, it is important to maximize whatever tax benefit is available to you to save funds. In this article, we will discuss key tax matters and best practices that you must be wary of when dealing with friends and family. These three matters include: property gifts, having a secondary residence, and personal loans to friends and families.

1. Tax Implications of Real Estate Property Gifts

Real estate is becoming increasingly expensive in Canada. If you have the privilege of owning some real estate properties and thinking of gifting them to your loved ones, there are things you must consider.

Capital Gains Attribution – This is one thing you should be wary of when gifting a real estate property in Canada. For a better understanding, let us look at this example: If you gift a property to your spouse and they decide to sell to a third party, any capital gain or loss on the value of the property will be charged back to you. In other words, any profit or loss made on a property you gifted to your loved one will be attributed as yours and taxed accordingly. This is known as Tax-free rollover. It is an automatic tax charge on income from a property gifted to a spouse. To avoid this, you must apply to opt-out of the automatic tax-free rollover. When you apply, it means that you will have to report any accrued gains on the property and your spouse will also report any future gains on the property. The exception to this is when the property is gifted to a minor. You are not allowed to opt-out when you gift the property to a minor.

Income Attribution – Income attribution in Canada has to do with income from real estate properties. This occurs especially when you gift a property to your underaged family member. It could be your child, or a nephew or niece. If the child is under 18, any income on the property will accrue to you and will be taxed. This means that you will carry the tax burden of the income on the property gifted until such minor clocks 18 years of age. The income referred to in this type of attribution means rental income. It is different from capital gains attribution.  Income attribution also applies to spousal gifting of property or a common-law spouse. Any income accrued on the property will accrue to you and will be taxed accordingly. In all of this, it does not matter if you spend out of the profit or not; if it is a gift coming from you to your spouse or an underaged loved one and it will be assumed that the income is going to you.

Double Taxation on Transfer of Real Estate Property – Double taxation on real estate property gifts may occur when you transfer your property to a family member for less than the fair market value of such property. For a better understanding, let us use an example where you sell a real estate property to your son at a value of $20,000 as against the fair market value which is $350,000. In this type of situation, it will be deemed that you made a proceed of $350,000 on the property. Your capital gains, in this case, will be $320,000 ($350,000 – $20,000). Half of the $320,000 will be subject to tax. If your son goes ahead to sell the property for the fair market value of $350,000, you will be taxed on this sale again. This then amounts to double taxation.  Another example of when double taxation can occur is when you sell your property to a loved one at a value more than the fair market value. For example, if the property is valued at $300,000 and you sell it to your sister at $350,000, it will be deemed that you made a proceed of $350,000 on the property and taxed accordingly, but it will be deemed that the property cost your sister $300,000. If your sister decides to sell the property in future, you will be taxed again. Fortunately, there is a way out. The reason for the double taxation in the scenarios painted above is that the property was sold for a value. However, if you transfer the property for no consideration at all, it will be deemed that it was sold at a fair market value. The beneficiary will have a fair market cost base which will allow you to avoid double taxation.

What Are Your Alternatives? With all the taxes mentioned above, it is advisable that real estate properties should not be transferred for a lower amount from the fair market value. But if you want to transfer your property to your loved ones without any consideration to find a way around Capital gains attribution and income attribution, you can consider any of the following:

  • You can gift your loved one the cash they need to acquire the money at a fair market value. That way, you will not be taxed on capital gains or income from the property.
  • The other option you have is to lend your loved one the money required to purchase the property at a fair market value. However, you must ensure that they pay a prescribed interest rate on the loan. – The full loan must be repaid on or before the 30th of January the following year and it must include the interest income in your tax return.

2. Best Practice Personal Loans to Friends & Family

Being a high-net-worth individual may mean that people come to you from time to time to get loans. It is a privilege to be able to help others, but you must ensure you do it with your eyes wide open so as not to regret it later. For one, the reason most people turn to private loans from friends and family is that banks have rejected them, and they believe they will get flexible terms. This makes lending money to friends and family a risky venture.

Here are some best practices to guide you on what you need to protect yourself:

Choose Wisely – People have different reasons for needing a loan without a thought as to how they will repay the loan. Some reasons are more worth it than others. Therefore, it is important to know the reason for the loan before giving it. The reason for the loan will probably tell you what you need to know about the person. They may be your friends and family but it is your money, and the final decision is yours. Here are some genuine reasons you can consider lending money:

  • A start-up business or an existing one. Investing in a business could yield returns afterwards.
  • Down payment for a new home. You can consider helping in this regard.
  • Medical needs. This is another genuine reason for which you can lend money.
  • Divorce and legal problems are also genuine reasons someone may want to borrow money.
  • If the person just relocated, you could consider lending him/her some money.

It is also important that every detail of the loan should be discussed. Being a friend or family is not enough. There should be a repayment plan and an agreed interest rate. All these terms should be clear and should be in writing if possible or there should be a witness to the discussion.

Have A Plan – It is important to have a plan with the person you are lending money to. Some of the things to be discussed include:

The Type of Credit Arrangement – It is very important to be clear whether it is a loan, or you are co-signing on a loan already borrowed. Both are risky but co-signing may be riskier because you are placing liability on yourself to repay if the person defaults. This may affect your credit score. Meanwhile, a loan coming from you bears a lighter risk because if the person does not pay it back, you must be prepared for that eventuality. Be clear on the difference and make sure you make the best decision.

Be Clear on Interest Rate – This is a tricky subject for friends and family who want to enter into a loan agreement. On the one hand, you as a lender will want to make sure you give a favourable interest rate, especially with the risk involved. The borrower, on the other hand will be expectant that you give an interest rate that will be favourable to him or no interest rate at all, considering the relationship between you two. Whatever the case may be, it is important that you are clear on this condition. You can give a lower interest rate than banks but high enough to ensure you make money from the transaction rather than your money just lying in the bank.

Get It Documented – This is an important step that could make or mar your relationship with the borrower. Money can be a tricky issue which can give room for recriminations. To avoid this, it is important to get everything discussed, especially the terms agreed upon by both parties’ documents. The amount, interest rate, repayment dates, and the penalty for late repayment. There are free online resources that provide templates you can use for the contract to be signed by both parties. This makes them facts and legally binding on both parties regardless of the relationship between you two.

Payment Arrangement – The payment agreement is an important part of the contract. It is important to agree on when and how the loan will be paid. All these should be written in clear terms in the contract drawn up. Loaning money to family and friends can be tricky. It is important to adhere to the tips mentioned to preserve your relationship with the person.

3. Tax Implications for Secondary Residences

It is not uncommon for high-net-worth individuals to have an additional shelter as part of their assets. it could be a vacation home or an investment. The fact remains that it is your asset and will be referred to as a secondary residence. Usually, a residence that is being habited is regarded as a primary residence. The CRA requires that you report a sale of your primary residence to qualify for the Principal Residence Exemption (PRE). The CRA will analyze your data before granting you a PRE. Details that are assessed include the duration you have been living in the said residence, your real estate investments, and your sources of income. All of these will help them determine if the building is truly your primary place of residence. This exemption does not apply to your secondary residence.

To save yourself some cash on taxes, if you have a secondary residence and you have a spouse or a common-law partner, you can designate the secondary residence to your spouse for all the years you own and use it as a primary residence which qualifies it for capital gains tax exemption when it is sold. Fortunately, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) does not prescribe how long you must live in a house for it to become your primary residence. It only says that you must habit the residence for a short period which makes it open to interpretation. Residences outside Canada can also be designated as a primary residence if the designate has inhabited the home in the year in which the PRE is being applied for. If you fail to take advantage of this, your secondary residence will be subject to capital gains tax for the years it was not designated to an inhabitant.

When designating, there are exceptions you need to take note of. The first is that only one property per year and per family can be designated as a primary residence. A family member in this context means your spouse or common-law partner and your children that are under 18. Another exception is that any residence that is above 1.2 acres in size will not qualify for PRE except if you are able to prove that the excess land is required for the use and enjoyment of the residence. This means that the excess land will be subject to capital gains tax.

For a maximum tax advantage, you should designate the residence with the highest average capital gains per year. You can also contact a tax expert for proper guidance.

Bottom Line

Although it seems like a lot to digest, that is why you have an advisor. Reach out with any questions in any of the above areas if you feel in over your head.

Book an appointment with us today! – CLICK HERE

How to Financially Prepare for Divorce

Divorce is an emotionally draining time for not only the couple but for their family as well. It can also be a financially devastating time. Putting your energy into your financial wellbeing is essential when going through this big life transition. You will be forced to make life changing decisions in a very short period, and it is important that you know what you are entitled to and where you stand in the marriage, from a financial perspective.

What You Need to Know

  1. Find and Compile Your Financial Records – Your first move to protect yourself financially is to make a file of all your financial records. Tax returns, loan documents, retirement accounts, bank accounts, and investment statements. You want to be sure that you are aware of all accounts and liabilities when you go into the divorce process.
  2. Assess Your Assets – Make an exhaustive list of all your assets that could come into question when it comes to division of property. Marital assets are any asset or liability that was acquired during the marriage. This includes houses, cottages, land, investments, pensions, personal property (jewelry, art etc.), vehicles, and other types of intangible property (such as intellectual properties). Debts can also be considered marital property depending on the nature of the liability. Typically, assets acquired before marriage remain in the possession of the person who brought them into the marriage. Inheritance and gifts can also be excluded from divorce if the assets have not been used to buy joint property.
  3. Open New Bank Accounts – Many married couples have combined finances and use joint bank accounts for convenience’s sake. If you have or if you plan to end your marriage, one of your first steps should be to open new bank accounts in your name that your spouse does not have access to. You should also make it a priority to have any direct deposits updates with your new accounts (your pay cheque, for example) and start paying your bills out of your new individual account.
  4. Change Your Will and Update Beneficiaries – Most couples name each other as beneficiaries in their will and on any investment or insurance accounts that beneficiaries are designated. This should be changed as soon as possible. This may not seem like a top priority, but the unexpected happens and no matter how amicable the divorce, it is impossible to know your wishes will be honors upon your death if you do not put it in writing. Investment accounts and life insurance policies can easily have their beneficiaries changed through your advisor. Your will and power of attorney designations needs to be updated by a lawyer.
  5. Change your Mailing Address (if applicable) – If you are changing your address due to the divorce, or even if you are splitting time in the family home until the divorce is settled, you should change your mailing address immediately. Whether this is to your new home or if you secure a PO Box, it is important that your mail stay private as you may receive correspondence from your lawyer or information about your finances that your former spouse should not be privy too.
  6. Get Credit Cards in Your Name – If you have joint credit card, pay them down and cancel them immediately so that you don’t find yourself responsible for debt that your spouse may accumulate when you leave the marriage.
  7. Refrain from Making Any Big Financial Decisions – Divorce can be a long road. Assets may become unavailable to you as you go through court proceedings, or conversely you could end up having to hand over more to your spouse then planned, and it is wise to hold off any making any big purchases or making any irreversible decisions until the divorce is finalized.

The Bottom Line

Divorce is complicated and can be a difficult time, both emotionally and financially. It is always best to work with legal and financial professionals when navigating a divorce to ensure your best interests are being looked out for and that you are being treated fairly as the divorce proceeds.

Tips on Retirement Savings Plan

A retirement savings plan is a way of protecting your post-retirement financial lifestyle. However, in recent times, recessions, stock-market declines, housing market bubbles, joblessness, and, most recently, a global pandemic have created a series of challenges for people trying to start, grow, or maintain a retirement savings plan. With all the economic uncertainties, it’s natural to wonder if you’re doing all you can to protect your retirement nest egg. Taking a back to basics approach can instruct you on how to keep your retirement financial plan on track during uncertain economic times and beyond.

Consider these tried and tested tips that most financial advisors will recommend for a secure and enjoyable retirement.

  1. Make Realistic Budget and Lifestyle – Determining your retirement income needs starts with making realistic assumptions about your future. Because of increased life expectancy, retirement years are longer than they used to be. The average Canadian is expected to live to 78.79 years. Longevity can also be impacted by genetics, where you live, your marital status, and your lifestyle. All of these factors into how you plan for your retirement. It’s also good to be realistic about your post-retirement budget and lifestyle. Do not make the mistake of assuming that your post-retirement budget will be reduced. Retirement is becoming increasingly expensive, particularly in the first few years. It’s essential to have a plan to help mitigate expenses when you are no longer earning a paycheck.
  2. Have A Savings Plan – Based on these realistic lifestyle assumptions about your post-retirement days, you can begin to determine what you can do now to sustain yourself financially for at least 25 years post-retirement. The 4% rule is one popular method for working this out. In this model, you commit 4% of your savings for every year of retirement. Another approach is to draw down 2-3% of your total retirement portfolio annually, adjusted yearly for inflation.
  3. Consider Inflation – Speaking of inflation, failing to factor it into your plan could take a substantial bite out of your hard-earned nest egg. Inflation impacts how much your retirement savings will be worth over time, so understanding this is critical to ensuring that you have enough assets to last throughout your retirement.
  4. Grow Your Retirement Savings – Retirement means different things to different people, but the key is to enjoy this time of your life while making sure you don’t outlive your retirement savings. You are more likely to achieve this with a thoughtfully developed plan that allows you to withdraw money from your portfolio while enabling growth over the longer term. You can achieve this by using various investment vehicles with reasonable returns.

Bottom Line

Planning for the future is a complex and sometimes emotional process that is not easy to do without guidance. Financial advisors can help you remain objective and focused on your future goals. They also have the skills and tools you need to plan for a healthy financial future.

Book an appointment with us – CLICK HERE

Quitting your Job? What you Need to Know about Your Pension.

Employers are seeing a trend of their employees quitting their jobs. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many to re-evaluate how they are spending their lives. Employees are valuing their time more than ever and are looking for opportunities where work life balance is a top priority. One worry that employees may have as they embark on their next stage of life: What happens to my pension?

The three most common retirement savings plans in Canada are: Defined Benefit Pensions (DBPP), Defined Contribution Pension Plans (DCPP), and Group Registered Retirement Savings Plans (Group RRSP). Regardless of which type of plan you are enrolled in; all is not lost once you leave your job. Each type of plan has special rules and provisions for what you can do with the money when you leave your employer.

What You Need to Know

  1. Defined Contribution Pension Plans – Defined Contribution plans are typically made up of a combination of employer and employee contributions. The retirement benefit is dependent on how much is in the account at the time and how it has performed in the markets. When you leave your job, you will have to transfer your pension into either a LIRA, LIF, or RRIF, depending on your province of residence. A LIRA is a locked in retirement account holding the pension money until it comes time to take an income from it, when it will be converted to a LIF. It is also possible to transfer pensions directly to a LIF, if age requirements are met. Provincial authorities are responsible for regulating pension money and most pension money is “locked-in”, which means there are age restrictions on when you can withdraw the money and limits on how much you can take. Rules differ from province to province.
  2. Defined Benefit Pension Plans – Defined Benefit Pension Plans guarantee an income to employees in their retirement. Defined Benefit plans may be made up of both employer and employee contributions, or just employer contributions. When you leave your employer and have a Defined Benefit plan, you will have two options: 1. Leave the money in the plan and take an income based at retirement based on contributions up until the point you leave. 2. Take the commuted value of the plan and transfer it to a LIRA. The LIRA will be subject to the same locking provisions as mentioned above. Whether or not to take the commuted value of a Defined Benefit plan is a financial planning issue that should be worked through with a professional. They will help you determine whether the income or lump sum would be more beneficial to your retirement plan.
  3. Group RRSPs – Group RRSPs are the most flexible pension option. When you leave your employer, you will be able to transfer your Group RRSP directly into your individual RRSP. Alternatively, you could withdraw the account in cash, but be prepared to take a tax hit.

The Bottom Line

There are exceptions to locking-in rules and each province has a different set of regulations. A financial advisor can help you understand the rules in your province and help you determine the best course of action of your pension money.

Book an Appointment with us – CLICK HERE

Electric Cars vs Hybrid Cars

An Electric Vehicle (EV) is powered by electricity either from a power grid, solar system, or kinetic energy from breaking, for power. In contrast, a Hybrid Vehicle (HV) consists of both an electric-powered feature and the gas-powered feature. It can run on gas and on electricity.

Savings

The rise in gas prices gradually makes EVs an option for people in Canada. The number one advantage you get from an EV is how much you get to save on gas. Instead of branching at a gas station every few days, you can plug your car at home to refuel. Same thing with an HV. Depending on your city or province, the electric feature in a hybrid car will save you cash on gas. For example, Vancouver is known for its high price of gas. Though both cars are expensive, you get to recoup your money from the savings on gas every now and then.

With an EV, you get to save money on maintenance. An EV is known to only have a handful of inexpensive maintenance costs compared to cars with Internal Combustion Engines (ICE). no need for an oil change, belt replacement or other expensive maintenance and repairs that are associated with ICE cars. EV maintenance and repair will run you $949 per year, which is $330 less than a traditional vehicle.

Costs

The upfront payment on an HV is known to be on the high side compared to a gas-powered vehicle. Sometimes the difference could be as high as $10,000. Depending on the brand you buy, an HV could be cost-intensive. You should consider the price of gas in your area, how much time you will be driving and how long it will take you to recoup your expenses in gas savings.

An EV is also the same as the price of a new ICE vehicle. In Canada, it is advisable to go for a used EV as they are cheaper than buying brand new ones. You can also enjoy tax credit in some provinces if you buy an EV. Some of them include:

  • Nova Scotia: $2,000 rebate on used EVs;
  • Ontario: $1,000 toward the purchase of a used EV and $1,000 toward the purchase of a used EV if you scrap your old ICE vehicle;
  • Prince Edward Island: $5,000 rebate for a used EV;
  • New Brunswick: $1,000 rebate (PHEV); $2,500 rebate (EV).

Future Trends

The EV and HV market in Canada continues to grow impressively. The world is gradually shifting to green energy and Canada is not far behind. The HV and EV market had total revenues of $1.1bn in 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.7% between 2016 and 2020. The market consumption volume increased with a CAGR of 14.9% between 2016 and 2020, to reach a total of 40,206.0 units in 2020. Even though the EV and HV market declined in 2020 due to the pandemic, with a decline of about 33.8%. There are strong indications that things are getting back to normal, and the market will continue to grow.

To find out more on Incentives for Purchasing Zero-Emission Vehicles, CLICK HERE for information from Transport Canada.

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Getting Money from your Corporation

Executive Summary

There are numerous ways to take money from corporate earnings while keeping your tax bill to a minimum. Often, business owners opt to receive a portion of corporate earnings through a salary. While others opt to extract profits using a mix between salary and dividends.

Finding the optimal combination to maximize your tax savings depends on many factors including (but not limited to) your cash flow needs, income level, payroll taxes on salary, or the corporation’s income level.

Understanding the tax treatment of payments is important as you want to ensure that the maximum amount of funds is left to be invested back into the corporation.

Earning Options

Paid-Up Capital: If you funded your corporation with a large sum of capital, you may be able to extract funds tax-free by reducing the corporation’s paid-up capital; essentially this is the amount of capital contributed in exchange for shares. Typically, you are allowed to pay shareholders any amount less than the corporation’s paid-up capital without tax consequences.

Repay Shareholder Loans: Another option to receive corporate funds is to repay shareholder loans. If you loaned funds to your own corporation, you are entitled to receive any amount of repayment of the loan tax-free. You may also arrange to have the corporation pay you interest on the loan. Taxation of the interest income is about equivalent to the taxes deducted if the corporation paid you a salary.

Passive income: Investment income earned inside your corporation is classified as ‘passive income’ as it is not generated by direct business operations. The combined tax rates are over 50%, depending on your province of residence, on the taxable portion of earnings. In the case of interest, that is the entire earned amount. For capital gains, half of the gain is subject to the combined tax rate and for dividends the rate is 33.33%. All three of these rates are higher than the highest marginal rate for individuals. Subjecting passive income to higher tax rates within a corporation can lend some benefits like:

  • Building your nest-egg inside the business to fund future expansions
  • Cover short-comings during difficult periods
  • Facilitate borrowing

However, the largest risk with this option lies in losing the capital gains exemption on the sale of shares of a ‘qualified small business corporation.’ As the invested assets build over time, and operating assets decline in value thanks to depreciation, the asset mix could be lopsided. To have the capital gains be exempt, the ‘passive’ invested assets cannot exceed 10% of the fair market value of the corporations’ assets.

Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption (LCGE): For 2021, the LCGE limit per person is $892,218 and is indexed to inflation. This means a married couple who both own shares and can both utilize the exemption could shelter $1.784 million from taxes. Farms and fishing operations that qualify have the individual limit of $1 million per person, allowing a couple to shelter a maximum amount of $2 million. Depending on your goals, a short-term increase in tax and the professional fees associated to establishing the appropriate corporate structure could save you significant amounts of tax in the long run.

Maximizing Capital Dividend Payments: When you have a capital gain, the untaxed portion (one half of the gain) is added to its capital dividend account. The corporation can pay any amount from this account to your client without attracting personal tax. Although this is likely your best option, you must ensure that you make the appropriate tax deductions and remember to file the directors’ resolutions with the CRA.

Bottom Line

Every corporation is going to present varying degrees of needs. When it comes to determining how to pay yourself, be sure to be well informed before making any final decisions. Of course, consulting with a financial expert, like myself, can prove helpful. I encourage you to get in touch with any questions or concerns or to simply learn more.

Book an appointment to discuss how you can get money from your Corporation – Book Here

3 Misconceptions About Estate Planning

Having a proper estate plan in place will ensure that your loved ones are protected if you were to pass away. As soon as you have any assets or property it is time to contact your team of professionals to discuss what would happen to those assets if you were not here anymore.  Neglecting to do so can end up costing your estate or loved ones in the form of probate costs and potential legal battles. Unfortunately, many people think that they can skip the estate planning process and that it doesn’t apply to them. Below are three of the most common misconceptions about estate planning.

What You Need to Know

  1. Estate Planning is for Older People: While it is true that older people are more likely to be in need of a solid estate plan due to wealth accumulation and age, there is no right age to start the process. The reality is that it is not uncommon for people to die too early and it is a disservice to your family to not acknowledge this fact. A good rule of thumb is to put an estate plan in place as soon as you have someone who depends on you. Marriage and having children are two major life events that might come to mind.
  2. Estate Planning is Only for the Wealthy: Estate planning is important no matter what the value of your assets are. In fact, the less that you have the more strain your family may feel when you are no longer around. Estate planning can include distributing your assets but it also involves leaving an income for your family in the form of insurance planning. Having a plan in place will give you the peace of mind that your family will be cared for financially.
  3. A Will is All You Need: While a will is a good foundation, a good estate plan should include so much more. Wills, power of attorney, health care directives, insurance, business succession planning, tax planning, trusts… the list goes on! A will outlines where your assets will go, but it doesn’t necessarily specify how they are going to get there. Transferring assets smoothly takes extensive planning, but your heirs will thank you for it after you are gone.

The Bottom Line

The best time to start considering an estate plan is right now! You should be prepared for the unexpected no matter your age or the value of your assets. Talk to your advisor about different strategies you can use with your investments and insurance to ensure that your assets are as organized as possible and can pass smoothly to your family.

Book an Appointment with us today! – CLICK HERE

How Investment Income Is Taxed

Investments can represent a major source of income for some individuals and with that income comes a wide variety of tax implications. The good news is that some types of investment incomes are subject to special tax treatment. Understanding how your investments are taxed is an important part of your financial plan. The most common types of investment income most investors will have to deal with are interest, dividends, and capital gains.

What You Need to Know

Interest Income

Interest income refers to the compensation an individual receives from making funds available to another party. Interest income is earned most commonly on fixed income securities, such as bonds and GIC’s. It is taxed at your marginal tax rate without any preferential tax treatment and is taxed annually whether or not it has been withdrawn from the investment.

Example: An investor buys a 10-year GIC that has agreed to pay him 4% annually. If the investor bought the GIC for $100, he can expect to earn $4.00 in interest every year for the next 10 years. The investor must report the $4.00 of interest income on his income taxes and will be taxed at the marginal tax rate. 

Due to the fact that interest income is reported as regular income, it is the least favorable way to earn investment income.

Dividend Income

Dividend income is considered to be property income. A dividend is generally a distribution of corporate profit that has been divided among the corporation’s shareholders. The Canadian government gives preferential tax treatment to Canadian Controlled Public Corporations (CCPC) in the form of a dividend income gross up and Dividend Tax Credit (DTC). The two types of Canadian dividends are usually referred to eligible or non-eligible. It is possible to receive dividends from a foreign corporation, but these dividends are not subject to any special tax treatments and are to be reported in Canadian dollars as regular income.

Tax payers who receive eligible dividends are subject to a 38% dividend income gross up, which is then offset by a federal DTC worth 15.02% of the total grossed up amount. Non-eligible dividends are subject to a gross up of 17% and 10.5% DTC.

Example: A shareholder of a Canadian Controlled Public Corporation is paid out a dividend of $100. This income is considered to be an eligible dividend and is subject to the gross up and the DTC. His dividend would be gross up 38%, so he would now have an income of $138.00.  The DTC would be 15.02% of the grossed-up amount, equaling $20.73. Therefore, the shareholder would report a dividend income of $138.00, but would have his federal taxes owing reduced by $20.73. 

The rationale for the gross up and DTC is related to the fact that dividends are paid in after-tax corporate earnings. If there were no adjustment to the dividend, it would result in the dollars being double taxed.  This tax treatment makes dividends the most tax efficient way to receive income. Tax is payable when the dividends are paid out. It is, however, important to note that the gross up and DTC rates are influenced heavily by legislation and could change at any time.

Capital Gains

Capital gains are realized on equity investments (such as stocks) that appreciate in value. For example, if an investor bought a stock at $5.00 per share and sold them at $10.00 per share, they would have a capital gain of $5.00. What makes capital gains different from other types of investment income is that you only are required to pay tax on 50% of the gain. Another desirable trait of capital gain income is that you do not have to pay tax until the investment is disposed of, giving the investor some control over when they trigger the gain and pay the tax. Whether or not they are the most tax efficient income depends on your province of residence and subsequent tax rates.

The Bottom Line

It is important to ensure that investors understand how their investments are being taxed and the implications that different types of investment income can have on your taxes owing. A great first step is meeting with an advisor who can help you put together the most tax efficient investing strategy, making sure your money is reaching its full potential…not going to the tax man!

Estate Planning Checklist

While uncomfortable to think about, effectively planning ahead for when you are no longer here can save your loved ones a great deal of time, money, and emotional hardship.  Estate planning can be complicated, but there are some basic “must-do’s” that should be regularly updated and reviewed. Below is a simple checklist for making sure your estate plan is up to date.

What You Need to Know

Wills

  • Have you created a will?
  • Is it updated and current?
  • Have you experienced any major life changes since the will was created? This could be a new marriage, divorce, child, death in the family, etc.

Wills should be created with the guidance of an estate lawyer to ensure that your final wishes are correctly documented and carried out. It is vital that a will be regularly updated as it acts as the foundation of your estate plan.

Beneficiaries

  • Do all your registered investments have a named beneficiary? This includes RRSP, RDSP, RESP, TFSA, Pension Plans, and Segregated Funds.
  • Do all your life insurance policies have a named beneficiary?
  • Have you recently reviewed your beneficiaries? Has there been a major life changes such as a marriage or divorce that could warrant a change to your beneficiary appointment?

Beneficiary designations allow for assets to bypass probate (in most cases) and be passed directly to your beneficiary. This is a great money and time saver.

Dependents

  • Do you have a family member that you wish to provide an income to after your death?
  • Do you have family members that you wish to fund an education for after your death?
  • Do you have any family members that have special psychological or physical needs that you would like to provide financial support for?
  • Do you have a parent or other relative that you wish to ensure is taken care of financially if you die prematurely?

There are a variety of different financial and legal tools available to Canadians that can help them provide income or support for their dependents when they are gone. Keeping your dependents updated in your will is important as they may change throughout your lifetime.

Executors

  • Have you named an Executor of your will?
  • Is the Executor up to date? Have you named an alternate Executor in the event your first choice is unable to fulfill the position?
  • Has your Executor been made aware of their appointment and been briefed on your final wishes?

An Executor is someone you appoint in your will that will be responsible for administering your estate. An Executor should be someone you trust and also someone who is capable of dealing with the potentially complex responsibilities involved with administering an estate.

Powers of Attorney

  • Have you appointed a Power of Attorney for Property? This person will be able to help you with your finances and personal property in the event you are unable to do so yourself.
  • Have you appointed a Power of Attorney for Personal Care (Health)?  This person will be responsible for making medical and personal care decisions for you if you become unable to act on your own.
  • Are you POA’s aware of their appointment and willing/capable to perform the tasks that will be required of them?

Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to help you with your finances and personal care in the event that you feel unable to do so or become mentally incapable.

Financial Planning

  • Have you spoken to your financial advisor about structuring your assets in the most tax efficient way to minimize estate taxes and probate fees?
  • Have you set aside enough money to cover final expenses, estate taxes, probate fees, and funeral arrangements?
  • If you own a business, have you worked with your professional team of advisors to develop a succession plan?
  • Have you recently taken the time to calculate your final expenses and potential estate taxes?
  • Have you addressed any permanent insurance needs you may have?
  • Have you spoken to your advisor about your wishes to make a charitable donation before/after your death?

Your financial advisor will play a significant role in helping you prepare your estate. The above questions are only some of the issues that you may want to bring up to your financial advisor so that they can help you make your estate as efficient as possible.

Your Personal Financial Inventory

Prepare an Inventory of Assets and Liabilities

  • Real Estate
  • Investments
  • Bank Accounts
  • Annuities/Life Insurance
  • Personal Property (Art, Jewelry etc.)
  • Pensions
  • Value of Any Businesses You Own and Their Structure
  • Digital Assets

Make Sure You Indicate the Location of the Following

  • Will and Power of Attorney
  • Birth and Marriage Certificates
  • Divorce/Separation Agreements
  • Insurance Policies
  • Deeds
  • Safety Deposit Box
  • Preplanned Funeral Arrangements
  • Trust Documents
  • Names and Contact of Personal Advisors (lawyers, accountants, financial planners)
  • Executors, liquidators, and trustees

Far too often family members are left scrambling to find important documents and information. Your financial advisor and lawyer can help you collect the above information and organize it for your beneficiaries and executors.

The Bottom Line

Estate planning has a reputation for being complicated, but for most people all it takes is some thoughtful pre-planning. Working with a lawyer and financial professional will ensure all of your bases are covered and your final wishes are carried out. Estate plans should be reviewed and updated regularly.

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ESTATE PLANNING

There will come a time when you may be incapacitated or leave your loved ones behind. When either of these happens, you do not want to leave your loved ones in limbo about what to do or what will happen to your assets and properties. Proper estate planning is a way of avoiding this. An Estate Plan takes care of your assets and properties when you can no longer do so. All financial and medical decisions are usually contained in an Estate Plan.

Who Should Inherit Your Wealth?

This is a decision you have to make sooner or later in your estate plan. That is why it is always available to update your estate plan every now and then, preferably every 3 to 5 years. The truth of the matter is when it comes to sharing your assets and properties amongst your loved ones, it is almost impossible to make everyone happy with what you bequeath them. The best you can do is make sure everyone you want, gets something, whether or not they are satisfied may be beyond what you can control. You can also make sure your immediate family gets more share than extended family members and friends in that order. You should also try as much as possible to ensure that your children get equal shares of your estate.

However, equal doesn’t always mean fair. A lot of family disputes over inheritance arise due to the fact the testator does not bequeath his or her assets and properties to the children in an equal manner. There will be strife and division amongst your children. It may even disrupt the probate process. Your children may decide to challenge your Will. No one wants animosity among their children when they’re gone. You can seek the advice of an estate lawyer to properly advise you on how to go about it and how to prepare for such happening in your estate plan. Most times it is advisable to sit your children down and explain why you have decided to share your estate unequally among them. Explaining your rationale may help prevent potential strife and animosity. However, if you know the child with the greater share may be bullied, then it is best to keep it to yourself.

How To Legally Donate Your Wealth to A Charity Without It Being Contested by Your Relatives

Donating your wealth to charity is a normal thing done by people. However, it is not without its issues, especially when family members feel entitled to your wealth more than the less privileged. The first step to avoiding this is engaging the services of a lawyer to make your estate inaccessible to your loved ones after your demise. It is your wish, so you have the right to make it, whether it is acceptable to your loved ones is another issue entirely. When your loved ones disagree with your bequest, it affects the probate process as they may decide to challenge it. Challenging your Will means they have to prove that you were not of sound mind when bequeathing your estate to charity. Therefore, you should ensure you follow all legal requirements of estate planning in your province and territory. It is advisable to go the way of using a Trustee to manage and disburse the funds to charity. Using a Trustee restricts the charity fund to existing on paper only. It will also be difficult for your loved ones to challenge because the charity funds are managed by a third party who is not a family member. You can also set up a foundation that will draw money from an alternative source in your estate plan. This also takes is beyond the reach of your loved ones.

How To Keep Family Members from Suing Your Estate and Getting Your Wealth by Way of Court Order.

The wishes in an Estate Plan are usually a subject of dispute among family members who got along fine before your death. This is sometimes not totally your fault. You can blame it on human nature. However, if your Estate Plan was not legally made, it can be contested by any family member which may lead to your wishes not being carried. To avoid this, you have to make your Estate Plan lawsuit-proof. Here are some tips on making that happen:

Go For a Trust Rather Than a Will

When you create a Trust, it does not go through the process of probate which usually involves the Courts. This limits the chances of it being contested by unsatisfied family members. The Trustee will be in charge of managing your Estate instead of an individual.

Go For a Corporate Executor

It is tempting using a family member as an executor, especially when you are sure there would not be any form of rancour regarding your assets. If you decide to go for a Will instead of a Trust, using a family member as your executor may give rise to hate against such a person or an abuse of power by such a person. A corporate executor will be a neutral executor and it is less likely to be an issue amongst family members.

Make Sure You Are of Sound Mind and There Is No Undue Influence

This is a legal requirement that makes your Will lawsuit-proof. If you make a bequeathal that does not go down well with a family member and it is established that you were not of sound mind when making the Will, it could render it void. You may wish to do both physical and mental evaluation before signing the Will. The same goes for undue influence. Ensure that you make your Will of your own free will.

Do Not Forget The “No Contest” Clause

The “in terrorem” clause as it is known is a perfectly legal clause that states that any family member who tries to contest the Will forfeits his or her inheritance. However, you should leave something reasonable for the people you know are likely to contest the Will for this clause to work.

Make Provisions for Disinheritance

If you are not bequeathing anything to a family member, it is advisable to state in your Will that you are not bequeathing any asset to such person. You can also leave a letter or memorandum detailing your rationale for the disinheritance. However, be careful of stating the reason for disinheriting the person, especially if the reason can be said to be against public policy. Each province and territory have their governing laws when it comes to disinheritance. However, note that you cannot disinherit your minor children and your spouse, except there is a binding Prenuptial Agreement.

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Mutual Funds vs Segregated Funds

Segregated funds and mutual funds are very similar: they are both pooled, diversified, professionally managed investment funds. Segregated funds, however, offer some unique characteristics that mutual funds do not. These include maturity guarantees, resets, death benefits, creditor protection, and probate advantages.

What You Need to Know

  1. Maturity Guarantees – Unlike mutual funds, segregated funds offer maturity guarantees, which means that the value of your investment at maturity will not be less than the specified percentage of capital that you invest. For example: If you were to invest $1000 with a maturity guarantee of 75%, at the time your contract matures, the insurance company would be obligated to ensure that at least $750 of your investment remains.
  2. Resets – Segregated fund contracts offer the option to “reset” your investment, so that the gains your investment has accumulated can be accounted for when calculating the maturity guarantee amount.  Provisions for these resets vary by contract.
  3. Death Benefit Guarantees – Some segregated fund contracts offer death benefit guarantees. These work similarly to maturity guarantees, except your beneficiaries are guaranteed to get at least a certain percentage of your invested capital.
  4. Potential Creditor Protection – Unlike mutual funds, segregated funds are issued by insurance companies. Due to this, in some circumstances, investing in a segregated fund could offer you protection from your creditors.
  5. Bypass Probate – Investing in a segregated fund gives you the ability to pass your investment directly to your beneficiaries, without the need for probate. This can save a lot of money and hassle for your beneficiaries.

The Bottom Line

Segregated funds can offer some valuable benefits that investors do not have access to by investing in mutual funds. It is important to note that segregated funds traditionally have higher fees than mutual funds. As always, it is important to work with your team of financial planning professionals to determine what investments are best suited for you.

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What is Probate and How to Plan for it

Probate is the process of getting your will approved by the courts. This process validates your will and allows your executors to distribute your assets.  However, probate can often be an expensive and long process. Each province has probate fees which can end up being quite substantial on a big estate. Probate can also cause serious delays in the distribution of assets from the will because once a will is probated it becomes public record. This means that it can be contested and potentially delayed while the courts settle any disputes. The good news is that with proper planning, it is possible to minimize or even eliminate the number of assets that have to go through probate.

What You Need to Know

There are a number of planning strategies that can be used to bypass or minimize probate. Below are some common strategies to make your estate as efficient as possible.

  1. Beneficiary Designation on Registered Assets – RRSP, RPP, TFSA, RRIF, LIF, and LIRA are all considered to be registered assets. This means that the CRA allows for a direct beneficiary designation. If there is a spouse, they are entitled to roll registered accounts into their own names. If there is no spouse, then the investor can name an alternative person to leave the money to that they designate directly on the investment account. Money left to a beneficiary bypasses probate and passes directly to the appointed person.
  2. Designating a Beneficiary on Non-Registered Assets – Typically, non-registered assets do not allow a beneficiary designation and automatically go to your estate to be probated. Segregated funds can be used to designate a beneficiary on non-registered assets.  Segregated funds are a life insurance product that are solely sold by life insurance companies. While the MER’s can be a little higher on segregated funds, they offer many of the same investment options that some mutual fund companies offer. Therefore, if non-registered money is invested in a segregated fund, they too will pass probate.
  3. Trusts – Any assets left to someone in trust automatically bypass probate.  There are a variety of trusts that are all used for different reasons. Trusts can be more complex than the options listed above, but they can be a very effective planning strategy that allows you to assign a trustee to manage the money.  However, it’s important to note that setting up a trust can be expensive. If avoiding probate is the sole reason for the trust, then it may be prudent to add up the costs of each to see which makes more sense.

The Bottom Line

Probate costs and hold up can be minimized with proper planning and guidance from a professional.  It is important to note that on registered and investments and segregated funds without a named beneficiary, the assets automatically go to the estate. This means they would be subject to probate.  It is a good idea to review your beneficiary designations regularly to make sure they are up to date.

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The Top 5 Mistakes You Should Avoid When Selecting a Financial Planner

A financial plan is a strategy you set in order to be able to attain your goals. With a financial plan, you can effectively manage your cash inflow and outflow and other recurring financial responsibilities with the aim of putting you in a better financial position to attain your set financial goals. A good financial plan should include provisions for your debts, income, insurance, savings, investments, and other things that make up your financial life.

Mistakes You Should Avoid When Selecting a Financial Planner

Hiring A Financial Planner Based on Referral Only

In this case, what is good for the goose may not be good for the gander, and in that case, you should base your hiring a financial planner solely on the fact that your friend has good things to say about him. For one, financial situations are peculiar situations, and a financial planner may not be well equipped to handle all kinds of financial situations. Make sure you do your vetting using your criteria and not what your friend tells you.

Hiring A Financial Planner on Sentiment

When you hire a financial planner because of an existing relationship with them, then you might be making a big mistake. You should hire a financial planner based on your current and future financial needs. Also, you must ensure that such a person is absolutely qualified to handle your financial needs.

Using Past Performances

When you only consider the past achievement of a financial planner as a criterion of hiring such a person, then you may be making a mistake. The past performance of a financial planner does not guarantee future success or a better plan going forward. Once you notice your financial planner is not adapting your finances to your current financial situations for a better long-term financial position, then it may be time to make a change.

Not Conducting a Thorough Research

When hiring a financial planner, there are a lot of things you must consider. Such a person must tick as many boxes as possible of what you want in a financial planner. You should vet the credentials of the financial planner, if possible, interview his clients to know how he handles different financial situations that may be similar to your financial situation. Also, try and interview multiple financial advisors to know the different personalities and investment styles to be able to pick the best.

Getting Carried Away by Promises

Yes, we want the best financial planner but that does not mean a financial planner that promises heaven and earth is the best. Most of the time, a sweet talker is not the best at what they do. The same goes for financial planners. You should ensure that your financial planner is not only concerned about choosing the most profitable investment and exploring the market. These are usually for their ego. Go for a financial planner that has your long-term financial position at heart. They usually make the best decisions at every turn.

Tips On Having an Effective Financial Plan

Set Your Goals

A financial plan is mostly about having something for a rainy day and how to manage your current financial situation to be able to achieve that. Therefore, it is good to outline what you are saving for. You should be exact on why you have a plan and why you are saving for it.

Have A Budget

This is for you to better manage your cash inflow. You should outline your bills, debts, and other necessary financial obligations. Yes, you can spoil yourself once in a while, but that should not get in the way of what you are setting aside for your goals.

Sort Your Taxes

Taxes are inevitable but there are better ways to go about it that will ensure you save as much as you can on your taxes and enjoy tax deductions. This will give you a better cushion for your financial plan.

Be Ready for Emergencies

Life has a way of throwing us a curveball. Of course, things won’t always go according to plan, which is why it is important to include an emergency fund in your financial plan to enable you to deal with unforeseen circumstances and expenses. This is where insurance also comes in handy. Have a good insurance plan to help you deal with emergencies.

Don’t Swim in Debt

Achieving your financial goals doesn’t mean you should go committing yourself to every financial aid that will drown you in debt. Debt is one of the banes to an effective financial plan. Ensure that you manage your debt effectively so you can achieve your goals.

Be Ready for Retirement Taxes

Most financial plans get you ready for when you are no longer active. So, your retirement goals and plans should take the forefront of your financial plan.

Multiple Investments

The only way to multiply your savings is to invest in different portfolios that will bring you both short-term and long-term profit.

Have An Estate Plan

Lastly, have an estate plan that will help you make important financial decisions when you can no longer make them yourself. Having an estate plan is not only for the rich.

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6 Tips for More Successful Investing

There is no one and done way to invest, but there are a few tried and true principles that have served investors well over the years.

What You Need to Know

  1. Have patience and a long-term outlook – Great investment results do not happen overnight.  Think of your moneys earning potentials in the context of years, not months.
  2. Never buy on a tip… do your research – We all know someone who has “discovered” the next big money maker. Be wary of taking tips from friends and family members. Do your own research and make decisions that you are confident in.
  3. Don’t sell on bad news – This may be particularly relevant right now.  Markets tend to overreact on the downside, so be sure that you know the actual implications of any bad news on your investments before making a rash decision.
  4. Don’t allow your emotions to take over – Emotion has no place in the investment world. Facts, facts, and more facts are what should be making your investment decisions for you.  Having a plan and sticking to it can greatly help reduce emotion driven decisions.
  5. Stay invested and take advantage of compounding – Compound interest is one of the most powerful tools that investors have.  Leave you money invested as long as you possibly can to take advantage of compounding.
  6. Make an investing philosophy and stick to it – Know your comfort level and tendencies before you ever start investing. This way you will be sure to have a portfolio that will work for you instead of stressing you out.

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Financial Planning Checklist

It is always a good day to review your financial plan! Knowing what you have and haven’t accomplished is vital to reaching both your long and short-term goals. Below is a list of financial planning priorities that should be reviewed regularly.

What You Need to Know

Insurance

  • Did you buy a new house?
  • Did you have a baby or add to your family?
  • Did you get married?
  • Did you take on new debt?
  • Did you get a new job or have a change in income?
  • Did you experience a marriage breakdown or divorce?

Liabilities (new or changed)

  • Mortgage
  • Business Loan
  • Student Loan
  • Line of Credit
  • Credit Card Debt
  • Car Loan
  • Any other liabilities?

Assets (new or changed)

  • Art
  • Jewelry
  • Cash
  • Real Estate
  • Land
  • Stocks
  • Bond
  • Life Insurance Policies

Short Term Goals (New or Changed)

  • Save for a House
  • Save for Vacation
  • Pay off High Interest Debt
  • Start Emergency Fund
  • Major House Repair or Renovation

Long Term Goals

  • Retirement Dates
  • Education Savings
  • Mortgage Elimination

Investments

  • Adjusting Risk Tolerance
  • Reviewing Asset Allocation
  • Savings Strategies
  • TFSA
  • RRSP
  • RESP
  • RDSP
  • Un-Registered Accounts

Accounting for Big Changes

  • Did You Move?
  • Did You Sell Major Assets?
  • Did You Change Jobs?
  • Did You Take on More Debt?
  • Did Your Family Grow?
  • Did You Lose a Loved One?
  • Is There a Critical Illness in the Family?
  • Did You Receive a Gift or Inheritance?
  • Was Someone in Your Family Diagnosed with a Disability?

The Bottom Line

Your advisor is here to help you and guide you through each step of the financial planning process. The above list should be used as a starting point to address basic financial planning needs.

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Credit Card Debt Is Your Financial Worst Enemy

Credit card debt is a recurring debt you are allowed to owe as long as you don’t exceed your credit limit. A credit card account is tempting as you can get whatever you want on credit as long as it is within your limit. It is always advised that you shouldn’t make purchases you cannot afford to cover at month-end. Another tricky feature of a credit card account is their interest rate charges on your debt until you fully pay. Payment is usually due at month-end and failure to pay as and when due would result in the accumulation of your debt as annual interest will be charged on the amount owed. There is also a minimum payment of 1% to 2% of your balance plus other charges that must be made to ensure you keep crediting your account. If you pay less than this minimum payment, interests will be charged, and it will keep on accumulating. Owning a credit card account can be a nightmare if not properly managed.

Tips On How To Overcome Credit Card Nightmare

The basic truth about overcoming a credit card nightmare is by taking charge of your spending. If you get this right, then you will enjoy the benefit of a credit card account. Here are some tips on how you can overcome your credit card nightmare:

  •  Know Your Credit Card – Get as much information as you can on your current credit cards or potential ones. Research the issuer’s payment schedule and other terms and conditions. Be sure to confirm the interest rate and other fees that will be charged if you delay your monthly payment. You can set up automatic payments and calendar alerts to avoid falling behind on your payment.
  • Be Disciplined – You should set spending rules on your credit card that you must follow. You can set a limit on your credit card expenses in a month. This will give you control of your spending and ensure that you live within your means. It is advisable to charge on your credit card what you can normally pay for with cash or debit card.
  • Keep Track – You should routinely keep track of the status of your account at least every week. Charges accumulate without notifying you, so it is advisable to check your account at least once a week to know the state your account is in. Adopting this principle will help you track your credit card debts, the types of credit you have, and your repayment history. These are what lenders will use to rate your credit score.
  • Avoid Cash Advances – Having a credit card account that can take care of things when you can’t afford it is quite tempting. You tend to want to take cash advances because you know you have a credit card account that can take care of things. Cash advances from your credit card account result in higher interest rates and transaction fees. There is no moratorium on your cash advance. Interest is charged immediately you take the cash advance. Avoiding a cash advance will put you in full control of your credit card account.

Tips On How To Prevent Accumulation Of Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is easy to accumulate but difficult to do repay. The only way to avoid credit card debt is to prevent it from accumulating in the first place. Here are some tips on preventing credit card debt accumulation:

  • Negotiate Your Interest Rate – Negotiating your interest rate on your credit card debt will go a long way in reducing credit card debt accumulation. The interest rates on your credit card debt are what make it difficult to settle your debt. Negotiate your interest rates with your credit card issuer so you can get the best deal possible.
  • Forget You Own A Credit Card Account – Once you are in a credit card debt, a trick you can try to prevent accumulating debt is to put your credit card away for other purchases, at least until you meet up with your monthly repayment. That is why it is advisable to use your credit card for short-term financial needs such as utilities, groceries, and some other monthly bills. This will lighten the burden on your credit card account by keeping your balance within a reasonable limit. If you can avoid using your credit card for a while, it will go a long way in reducing your debt burden.
  • Pay Your Debt As and When Due – Simply put, what makes your credit card debt pile up are the charges and interest rates on delayed payments. The best way to get over this is to pay your credit card debt as and due. Missing a due payment can leave you playing catch up. Your next payment will be for two months.
  • Watch Your Spending – A credit card account can leave you spending lavishly but you need to caution yourself and stick to what you can afford. Going for everything you see for sale is part of what gives you credit card debt. It is advisable to always avoid unnecessary spending.

Feminist Investing

Gender inequality affects almost all aspects of women’s lives, but perhaps none as much as their financial life. Canadian women earn on average only 88 cents to the dollar that men earn, and that number is even less for minorities and trans women. While progress is being made, there is still much work to be done. Luckily, there are simple steps we can all take to support women’s financial success.

What You Need to Know

  1. Start Talking About Money: It is time to start talking to friends, family, and partners about money. We may find that we have a lot to learn from those around us. Money has been a taboo topic in our society for a long time and this taboo reinforces the wealth gap and money inequality. Talking about money can give you an idea of what is possible and where you stand financially. We tend to think we are falling behind others financially, or that no one else has ever had financial struggles. By starting meaningful conversations with those around you, you may find that they have similar experiences to you. This knowledge is empowering and can help you better navigate your own finances.
  2. Spend Money on Women: Simply put, one of the best ways to be a financial feminist is to put money in women’s hands.  There are more women-owned businesses than ever and thanks to the internet, it is easy to be a mindful shopper. Take the time to search out businesses owned by women and prioritize supporting them when you can.
  3. Raise Financially Savvy Girls: Financial inequality starts early. According to data analyzed by BusyKid, an allowance app for kids out of the US, parents pay boys twice as much for doing chores as the pay girls for the same chores. It also found that only 21% of parents talk to their kids about money, and only 10% talk to their kids about investing and debt. Talking to your kids about money, especially girls, will set them up for success later in life. Kids tend to think Mom and Dad have unlimited resources. Explain to them what your expenses are, including your investments and savings strategies. Get girls into the mindset of building wealth early.
  4. Investing with Intention: Every dollar you invest has an impact. Therefore, it is important to choose investments that not only will be profitable, but that align with your values. Look for successful companies with gender-equal boards, women leadership, and good track records of equality in the workplace. Put your money to work in more ways than one.

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What You Need to Know About Appointing a Power of Attorney

Many people may worry as they get older about what will happen if they are no longer able to manage their finances and personal property. It can be a good idea to be proactive in planning ahead for a time when you may need help managing your affairs. One option available to Canadians to address this financial planning concern is appointing a Power of Attorney.

What You Need to Know

What Is a Power of Attorney?

Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives one or more persons the authority to manage your finances on your behalf. Once a person is appointed POA, they have the same decision-making abilities over your finances and property as you do. This includes bank accounts, investments, bills, real estate etc.  It’s important to understand that this does not mean they now own the property, only that they can make decisions regarding it. POA is limited, however, and they do not have the authority to make or change your will, change beneficiaries, or appoint a new POA. You have the ability to outline how the power of attorney can act. For example; you can limit them to having decision making abilities over only one piece of property.

It is possible to appoint more than one person as power of attorney. The acting POA’s can be required to make decisions together, or have the ability to act separately. This is something that is outlined in the power of attorney document. Unless you become mentally incapable you still maintain the same control over your finances and property.

Types of Power of Attorney?

There are two types of power of attorney when dealing with finances and property:

  1. General Power of Attorney – General POA gives someone the authority to make decisions over some or all of your property on your behalf. General POA only has this authority when you are mentally capable of managing your own affairs. POA ends immediately if you become incapable. Power of Attorney can come into effect when you assign them or on a specified date.
  2. Enduring/Continuing Power of Attorney – Enduring POA allows for the appointed attorney to have decision making power over your property when you are mentally incapable.

Choosing an Attorney

The person you assign as power of attorney should be someone you trust completely. This person could be a spouse, sibling, child, or other friend/relative. The minimum legal age for a POA varies from province to province. It is recommended to assign a substitute POA in the event your first choice is unable or unwilling to assume the role. It is important to note that in some provinces, POA’s are entitled to be paid unless otherwise specified in the document. Power of Attorneys must be able to manage your money in your best interest and keep detailed records on the decisions they make on your behalf.  Below are a few questions to ask yourself about the person you are considering appointing:

  • Does this individual have experience managing money and property? Do they do a good job of managing their own affairs?
  • Do you know this person well enough to feel that you can trust them?
  • Do they have any personal issues that may interfere with their ability to act in your best interest?
  • Does the individual understand what will be expected of them as your attorney?
  • Does this person have the time to manage your money or property as well as their own?
  • Is this person nearby and readily available to assume this role? Having someone that lives far away from you may cause issues.
  • Has this person willingly accepted their appointment as attorney?

Benefits and Risks

Benefits:

  • Makes it clear to family and friends who will be responsible for your money.
  • POA’s must manage your money for your benefit and can be required to account how he/she manages it.
  • Your Power of Attorney document can be as general or specific as you want giving you great flexibility over what assets your attorney would have control of.
  • The ability to have multiple attorneys can limit the possibility of someone taking advantage of you.

Risks:

  • Can lead to mismanagement of your money if your POA turns out to be untrustworthy.
  • Sometimes people limit the abilities of the POA to the point that it makes it difficult for the POA to fully take care of your finances.
  • Appointing two or more POA’s can come with certain challenges. If the POA’s are required to act jointly then it is possible that they will not agree on certain decisions.
  • If your Power of Attorney is not up to date, it is possible that the person you appointed may be currently unsuitable for the role.

The Bottom Line

Appointing a Power of Attorney can be a good option for many people and gives them the peace of mind that someone will be able to help them with their money if there is ever a need for it. When appointing a Power of Attorney, it is important to work with a lawyer who can fully explain the legal document to both you and your attorney. You should never feel pressured by a relative or friend to sign a Power of Attorney.

It is also important to note that a Power of Attorney for Property is not the same document as a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. A POA for property will have no authority to make decisions regarding your personal care.  These are two separate legal appointments and they are not interchangeable.

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Why You Should Only Have One Advisor

When it comes to financial advisors, less is more! There are many benefits to having only one advisor that you trust to work with to execute your financial plan and work toward your financial goals. Below are a few ways having one advisor can benefit you.

What You Need to Know

1.   Consolidation

Having multiple advisors means you have multiple accounts, possibly with multiple different companies. This can become confusing for you and eventually your beneficiaries. Consolidating will not only make your investments easier to keep track of, but it will ensure that your investments are working together instead of potentially working against one another.

For example: If you hold a clean energy fund with Advisor A and also hold a clean energy fund with Advisor B, then you may be over invested in an asset class. If the investments were all being managed by one advisor, they would be able to create an asset allocation for all your money that would manage risk appropriately.

2.   Taxes

Registered contributions, income planning, and estate planning are just a few of the decisions that you will make with an advisor that can significantly impact your income taxes. Having two or more advisors can pose a significant risk when it comes to tax planning.  One advisor can’t know what another is doing.

For example: If your RRSP contribution for a given year is $20,000, your advisor may advise you to contribute to your RRSP. However, if you have another advisor who is unaware that you have already used up that contribution room, they may advise you to contribute to your RRSP as well. This can result in stiff penalties for overcontribution. Having one trusted advisor can eliminate this problem. 

3.   Fees

Many advisors operate with a fee-based compensation structure that is dictated by account size. Having all your investments in one place may offer you the opportunity to save on fees.

For example: If you have three $100,000 accounts with three different advisors and are paying 1% on each account then you are paying $3,000 total in fees. However, if you consolidated your portfolio with one advisor who may be able to offer you a lower fee due to account size (let’s say .75%), you could be saving big time in annual fees!

The Bottom Line

Having one advisor that you trust is a smart financial move. Your portfolio will be simplified, better allocated, and benefit from someone having knowledge of your entire financial picture. If you do choose too have more than one advisor it prudent to ensure that the advisors are in contact to make sure that their decisions aligned and make sense for your financial plan.

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Should First Time Home Buyers Continue to Rent?

Housing prices have been climbing quickly. This is especially true in major urban centers where most Canadians live. The rate of increase for the average sale price appears to be climbing faster than people are able to save.

Some Canadians see the dream of homeownership vanishing, others wonder if the choice to own is appropriate for them. No matter the situation, objective analysis should accompany the emotional aspects of buying a home.

What You Need to Know

Regardless of the ultimate choice, affordability is an important decision criterium. No one has ever enjoyed being “house poor”, where little money is left after making your rental or mortgage payment. Based on household income and available down payment a maximum purchase price can be determined.

Every Canadian financial institution has an online calculator to determine mortgage payments. Mortgage providers employ additional analysis tools to predict whether a borrower will repay the lender based on their income, total expenses and financial history. If lenders are reluctant or refusing to provide a mortgage, perhaps the timing is not appropriate, yet.

Mortgage rates have been at the extreme low end of their range for several years as central banks around the world have attempted to revive economies through inexpensive borrowing. When interest rates are low more people and businesses can afford to borrow more. When something is on-sale people buy more, but for borrowing you cannot decide to delay a purchase when prices rise. Payments must still be made.

At some point rates will rise and some homeowners may not be able to afford their new, higher payments. Before buying their first home, borrowers should ask themselves, “if mortgage rates rose by 2%, would I be still able to afford my payments?”. For example, a $400,000 loan with an additional 2% interest adds $8,000 interest charges per year, or $667 more each month.

That increase would sit atop the existing mortgage payment. The same $400,000 mortgage with a 25-year amortization and 2.25% 5-year fixed rate requires a monthly payment of $1,750. Each additional $100,000 adds another $450 per month to the payment.

Lenders typically limit housing costs to 35% of gross income, acquiring a mortgage will ultimately decide if you purchase and the price. If you earn $100,000 then your maximum housing costs are $35,000 per year. Subtracting property taxes, condo fees and utilities will determine the amount available for mortgage payments. If these costs totaled $14,000, then a maximum of $21,000 would remain for mortgage payments. $21,000 divided by 12 equals $1,750 per month, yielding your maximum mortgage of $400,000.

A down payment is also required; the more the better. At least 10%, but 20% is preferred to keep payments lower. In the examples above with a $400,000 mortgage a first-time home buyer should plan on a down payment of at least $50,000 netting a purchase price of $450,000.

An experiment to determine if home ownership is appropriate is to act as a homeowner while renting. That is, make housing costs equal 35% of gross income. Set aside exactly 35% each month, pay your rent and utilities and the rest goes directly into a savings account, an RRSP or TFSA. Set up the deposit like a monthly bill that is paid automatically.  If you are able to practice this disciplined spending/saving approach you are able to live at 35%, if not habits may need to be changed or a more modest home purchase should be contemplated.

Continuing the example of $100,000 income, then $35,000 per year or $2,920 should go toward rent, utilities and savings. If rent is $1,800 and utilities are $150 set up an auto-deposit for $970 each month. At the end of one year you will have nearly $12,000 more set aside. At the very least this test should increase the amount of your down payment.

While you are accumulating your down payment the type of investments you purchase and sheltering it from taxes is also important. First time homebuyers can withdraw funds from their RRSPs, for example. Certain conditions apply, of course.

The Bottom Line

A dangerous emotion during a period of rapid rises in house prices is desperation. “If we don’t buy now, we’ll never be able to afford a home” has led many to overextend themselves financially. After that has occurred owning again can be almost impossible.

Couple the dreams of home ownership with objective analysis to determine the best course of action. Prudently investing your down payment in a tax advantaged way is another important aspect of the home buying and ownership experience. I am happy to help with calculations, scenarios, timing, negotiation advice with lenders and investment recommendations.

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Five Credit Mistakes You Should Never Make

In our everyday life, we spend so much on bills and other financial expenses we feel like a superhero when we wonder how we have managed to keep things together. One of the ways you can stay afloat and not drown in expenses is by having a credit card account. A credit account is a type of account that allows you to borrow money from your account to cover your monthly expenses.

You are however required to pay back money borrowed with interests and other additional charges. The line of credit you can borrow depends on the level of your debt. You have the option of paying your debt monthly or after each statement cycle. The nature of a credit card account makes it easy to accumulate debt which could be difficult to get out of. It offers a continued balance of debt option which makes it easy to accumulate debt. To avoid this kind of debt situation with a credit card account, here are some tips on the mistakes you should never make with a credit card. 

Mistakes You Should Never Make with A Credit Card

  1. Maxing Out Your Credit Card – When you max out your credit limit, apart from the huge debt profile, you also have other issues to be worried about. You may find it difficult to obtain another credit card account because of your credit score. You will also attract an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) which will be charged on every late payment. It is advisable to set a limit to your account to caution you and prevent you from maxing out your account.
  2. Paying Late – When you make late repayments on your credit card account, it damages your credit score and may put you in the bad books of your credit card issuer. A month’s late payment could reduce your credit card score by as much as 100 points. Imagine you are late for 3 months or more. You also stand the risk of accumulating APR on your late payments which increases your debt profile. The remedy to this is to ensure that you pay your credit card debt as and when due.
  3. Minimum Payment Habits – There are minimum debt payments you are required to meet every month on your credit card account. however, it is not advisable to only pay the minimum payment every month. You are still susceptible to APR charges which will increase your debt profile. To avoid this, try as much as possible to pay more than your required minimum payment.
  4. Not Reviewing Your Account Statement – One common and avoidable mistake you can make on your credit card account is to overlook checking your account statement on a regular basis. Reviewing your credit card account regularly allows you to know the status of your account and prevent reporting or charging errors and potential frauds from taking advantage of your account. if you cannot keep up with a weekly review, you should at least do a monthly account review to keep up with your bills and know the status of your account.
  5. Having Too Many Credit Card Accounts – In the short term, this might be a good idea because it gives you enough options to source for lines of credit to cover your expenses. However, in the long term, what this means is that you will not be able to keep up with the accumulated debt on different credit card accounts. These accounts will also charge APR which means more debts. Also, when you apply for a new credit card, the card issuer makes an inquiry on your credit card and too many inquiries may spook your existing lenders. You can take advantage of Pre-qualification forms which give you the opportunity to check if you qualify for a new credit card without damaging your credit score.

How Interest Rates Work

If there is ever a time to start understanding how interest rates work, now might be it! The Bank of Canada has been slashing interest rates consistently since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Below is a simple explainer of what it means to cut rates and how it could affect you and your money.

What You Need to Know

What Is an Interest Rate?

Simply put, an interest rate is the cost you pay to borrow money. For example, a bank may agree to lend you $10,000 but only if you agree to pay them 9% interest on that $10,000. This is how lenders get paid.

What Is the Federal Fund Rate? And Why Does it Change?

The federal fund rate, also known as the overnight rate, target rate, or nominal rate is one of the most important tools the federal government has.  A central banks ability to change the target rate is used to sway the economy in two major ways:

  1. The first is inflation. The government can raise interest rates when inflation is becoming too high as a way to stabilize it. The idea is that the raised rates lessen the flow of credit into the financial system. These raised rates tend to discourage people from borrowing and spending, which in turn can stop the rise of inflation.
  2. The second is to stimulate the economy. This is when growth is too low and unemployment is too high. By lowering the rates, the central banks hope to encourage borrowing and start a flow of money into the economy.

How Will Changes Affect You and Your Money?

Rate changes will affect anyone who has any debt. That means mortgages, lines of credit, credit cards…essentially anything you pay interest on! This is important for mortgages; especially when rates go down. If you have a fixed rate mortgage, rates going down may be a good reason to refinance and take advantage of lower interest rate.

What Do Interest Rates Have to Do with Investing?

Lowered rates are meant to encourage people to start investing in risky assets such as stocks and bonds.  This of course is part of the plan to stimulate the economy. By lowering interest rates, securities become more attractive than keeping your money in cash. The fact that the government takes steps such as this in an economic downturn is one of the reasons that securities typically will outperform cash in the long term.

The Bottom Line

The central banks have been using interest rate cuts to try to hedge against the economic impact of the covid-19 pandemic.  Lowered interest rates are designed to provide opportunity to businesses and investors. Be sure to talk to your advisor to find out how you could benefit.

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What’s the Difference between Universal and Whole Life

Financial terminology is crystal clear for those folks who work in and are exposed to the financial industry on a regular basis; everyone else finds the definitions and implications difficult to understand. “Universal” and “Whole Life” life insurance is not exempt from this reality.

What you need to Know

Whole Life

Whole Life Insurance is also called ‘permanent’ as it provides a lifetime of coverage. As long as the premiums are paid, the insurance stays in-place permanently. At the beginning of the Whole Life policy the death benefit and premiums are usually guaranteed, and remain fixed.

Whole life policies pay the death benefit when the insured person passes away. They can also accumulate additional cash value inside of the policy. The invested premiums fund the death benefit, and whenever excess premiums occur they are then invested by the insurance company on your behalf and create a Cash Value.

Typically, Whole Life insurance is less expensive to purchase than Universal Life, and is the ideal option for those people who desire level premiums and a predetermined death benefit.

Universal Life

Universal Life Insurance is a slightly more complicated financial solution as it is considered both a Whole Life policy and a tax-preferred savings account, combined together. At the beginning the death benefit is set, and then any premium payments above what the life insurance policy requires can be used to increase the death benefit or be held in a tax-preferred savings account.

This last point is important for those people who may have maximized allowed RRSP contributions and are looking for additional ways to shelter income and wealth from taxation.

The Bottom Line

To understand the differences between Whole Life and Universal Life Insurances be sure to consult with your Advisor.

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Essential Tax Numbers 2020, 2021, & 2022

With a new year comes new tax numbers!  Below is a quick reference of important tax numbers for three years, including 2022.  CRA has utilized a 1% indexing (inflation) for those numbers subject to that condition.

What You Need to Know

Taxable income brackets: 

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RRSP Contribution Limit: 

  • 2020: $27,230
  • 2021: $27,830
  • 2022: $29,210

TFSA Limit

  • 2020: $6,000
  • 2021: $6,000
  • 2022: $6,000

Maximum Pensionable Earnings

  • 2020: $58,700
  • 2021: $61,600
  • 2022: $64,900

OAS Income Recovery Threshold (claw-back begins)

  • 2020: $79,054
  • 2021: $79,845
  • 2022: $81,761

OAS Maximum Recovery Threshold (claw-back recovers all OAS payments)

  • July 2021 to June 2022: $128,149
  • July 2022 to June 2023: $129,757
  • July 2023 to June 2024: $133,141

Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption

  • 2020: $883,384
  • 2021: $892,218
  • 2022: $913,630

Maximum EI Insurable Earnings

  • 2020: $54,200
  • 2021: $56,300
  • 2022: $60,300

Medical Expense Threshold

  • 2020: 3% of net income or $2,397, whichever is less
  • 2021: 3% of net income or $2,421, whichever is less
  • 2022: 3% of net income or $2,479, whichever is less

Basic Personal Amount for individuals whose net income is less than the beginning of the 29% tax bracket

  • 2020: $13,229
  • 2021: $13,808
  • 2022: $14,398

Age Amount and Net income threshold amount

  • 2020: $7,637  $38,508
  • 2021: $7,713  $38,893
  • 2022: $7,898  $39,826

Canada Caregiver amount for children under age 18

  • 2020: $2,273
  • 2021: $2,295
  • 2022: $2,350

Child Disability Benefit and Family Net income phase out

  • 2020: $2,886  $68,798
  • 2021: $2,915  $69,395
  • 2022: $2,985  $71,060

Canada Child Benefit

  • 2020: $6,765 per child under six, $5,708 per child age 6-17
  • 2021: $6,833 per child under six, $5,765 per child age 6-17
  • 2022: #6,997 per child under six, $5,903 per child age 6-17

The Bottom Line

These are the current numbers released as of January 2022, but could change without notice, and be superseded by other stimulus measures.

Source: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/frequently-asked-questions-individuals/adjustment-personal-income-tax-benefit-amounts.html

 

RRSP Basics

As each February concludes and RRSP contribution season ends, investors across Canada exhale feel a sense of relief and accomplishment. RRSPs are an extreme example of deferred gratification; doing something good now for a benefit that occurs much later.

As the North American society has moved away from employment-based pension plans everyone is responsible to save for their retirement, and Registered Retirement Savings Plan is a fundamental tool to save. This is especially true when publicly managed pensions like Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) do not provide enough income for most.

Saving for retirement takes planning and discipline, it is not easy to manage the important (retirement savings) with the urgent (immediate expenditures).

An RRSP allows Canadians to defer income tax on both the initial deposit and any growth those assets generate. Making the maximum contribution could save you almost $15,000 on this year’s tax bill depending on your income level and associated tax rate.

What you need to know

  • Contributions to your RRSP are deducted from your taxable income. If you earn $100,000 and make a $24,000 deposit, you are taxed on $76,000 for that year.
  • Contributions and earnings are subject to income tax when withdrawn, or at death (unless the RRSP is transferred to a surviving spouse).
  • Contribution amounts are based on your income level. 18% of your income can be deposited into your RRSP with the annual limit of $27,830 for the 2021 tax year and $29,210 for 2022.
  • Contribution room from previous years that has not been used is carried forward.
  • Contributions can be made at any time during the year, and until the end of February for the prior year’s tax return. This allows the prior year to conclude before the contribution amount is fully calculated.
  • Contributions can be managed based on your unique situation, current and potential earnings and the tax brackets that you fall into. For an Ontario resident paying the highest marginal tax rate of 53.53%, a $24,000 deposit will reduce your income taxes by $12,874.
  • Contributions can be managed between years to reduce overall taxes. Unused contribution room can be utilized for years when a higher tax bracket is being applied to your income. Depending on your situation it might be better to wait or make a deposit now.
  • Contributions often generate a tax refund. When your payroll deductions are accurate most people will not pay or get a refund when filing their taxes. An RRSP is not typically factored into these calculations, and the tax savings generated by an RRSP deposit often appears as a refund!

And finally:

Contributions that are made monthly typically grow larger than the same yearly amount deposited annually after each year has concluded.

  •  $2,000 deposited at the start of each month for 25 years grows @ 6% to $1,385,988
  • $24,000 deposited at the end of each February for 25 years grows @ 6% to $1,316,748
  • Without any additional deposits that’s a difference of   $69,240!!

This is often a conservative estimate. The difference is usually much larger because an investor who commits to monthly contributions and agrees to a PAC (Pre-Authorized Contribution) is much more disciplined. An annual, large payment is more susceptible to the negative effects of variations in year-end bonuses and a year of day-to-day spending. The temptation is to believe that, if skipped, payments can be caught-up later, which the effects of compound interest make it difficult to achieve.

The Bottom Line

Setting up an RRSP with a monthly PAC can help you retire sooner, because we cannot save what we have already spent.

Book an appointment with us to discuss setting up your RRSP or Monthly PAC – click HERE

What to Consider When Drawing Down Your RRSP

If you have been a good saver and contributed religiously to your RRSP, you should be rewarded with a sizeable six or seven figure RRSP that would make your retirement that much more enjoyable. The only issue now is – how do you get the money out of the RRSP without paying more tax than you should? Typically, it is advised that investors leave their RRSPs alone for as long as possible to take advantage of the tax-free growth. While this can be true for many people, it is important to crunch the numbers before you retire to make sure this makes the most sense for your unique retirement situation. Many retirees, especially those with a high net worth, may find there could be a more efficient way to withdraw retirement income.

What You Need to Know

The intended use of a RRSP is to defer taxes from the time you are in a high tax bracket until you get into a lower tax bracket, thereby saving some tax on your contributions and allowing the money to grow tax free for many years. At some point, however, you must take that money out. The government mandates that Canadians must convert their RRSP to a RRIF, or an annuity, at age 71. The government also mandates that a minimum amount be taken. The issue with waiting until you are required to convert to a RRIF and take income is that you have little flexibility as to what you can withdraw. If your RRSP is large, the mandatory withdrawal amount may push you into higher tax brackets

Let us look at an example of how this could play out. In this situation below, the retiree has waited until age 71 to start drawing down their RRSP:

Joe has a RRIF worth $600,000 and his minimum withdrawal at age 71 will be $31,680 (5.28% x $600,000 = $31,680) for the year. He receives the maximum CPP benefit of $14,445 annually and an OAS benefit of $7380. These three income sources alone will total $53,505. The lowest tax bracket for the year 2021 is $49,020. This means Joe has been pushed into a higher tax bracket! This is before the income from his rental properties, defined benefit pension plan, and income from his non-registered investments are calculated.

As you can see from the example above, waiting until the last minute to start taking an income from your registered investments can have unintended consequences. Aside from simply paying higher taxes, there are income tax implications that need to be considered as you move to higher tax brackets as well. At age 65, you gain two tax advantages: the Age Amount non-refundable credit ($7635 for 2021) and the Pension Income credit ($2000 for 2021). The Age Amounts is income-tested and it reduces by 15% of the amount your net income exceeds $38,893 for 2021. This claw back also applies to your OAS, which begins if your income exceeds $79,054. Both credits could be affected by RRIF minimums that become mandatory at age 71, therefore:

  1. Pushing you into a higher tax bracket
  2. Cause a partial or total loss of your Age Amount tax credit
  3. Cause a partial or total claw back of your OAS income

And since the minimum withdrawal rate gets larger as you get older, this issue will only worsen as you age.

Here are some strategies that could help you pay lower taxes on your RRSP withdrawals:

  1. Consider deferring your CPP and OAS. Both Canadian pensions allow you to defer until age 70 to start receiving them, and you get rewarded for the deferral by receiving higher amounts. You can then use RRSP withdrawals to fill the income gap that the CPP and OAS would have provided, so you can draw down your RRSP at a lower tax bracket.
  2. When you stop working, you normally fall into a lower tax bracket, so top up your income to your existing tax bracket with RRSP withdrawals.
  3. Start a RRIF at age 65 to take advantage of $2,000 pension income credit. No matter how much income you have. This pension credit will allow you to withdraw $2,000 tax free from your RRIF, if you do not have any other pension income. So, fund the RRIF with your RRSP money to take $2,000 out tax-free each year.
  4. If your spouse’s RRSP value does not equal yours, you can start to equalize the amounts by withdrawing from yours to put into a spousal RRSP, if you have contribution room. The tax on your withdrawal is eliminated by your equivalent contribution into the spousal RRSP.

The Bottom Line

Always take to a financial advisor before starting RRIF payments. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to planning for retirement income. Everyone must consider their own financial situation when deciding how and when to start taking an income from your RRSP. Some things to talk to your advisor about: a) the amount of your minimum RRIF withdrawals at 71 b) how secondary income (rental income, side business etc.) will affect your tax bracket c) the best time for you to start OAS and CPP. It is important to ensure all your income sources are working as tax efficiently as possible so that you can get the most out of your hard-earned retirement savings!

Book an Appointment with us to discuss your RRSP – click HERE

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Life Insurance Audit

Many people tend to neglect the insurance part of their portfolio, but it is one of the most important tools you can have as a part of a financial plan.  Just like your investments or other assets it should be reviewed regularly to ensure it is still protecting you in the ways that you need it to. The steps below will help you get started on your own life insurance audit.

What You Need to Know

Step 1: What is the Purpose of My Current Coverage?

Ask yourself what purpose the life insurance serves you and your family. Your insurance could be used for any of the following purposes:

  • Debt Elimination
  • To Fund an Estate Strategy
  • Income for a Survivor or Dependent
  • To Fund a Buy Sell Agreement Between Business Partners
  • Investment
  • Charitable Donation

It is essential that the type of insurance you own is compatible with your plan for its proceeds. For example, if your intent is to leave the insurance proceeds to a charity upon your death, a term policy would not make sense as it’s possible the term would be expired years before your death. This should be the first part of your review. A trusted financial advisor can help you determine if your current coverage is suitable, and if it is not, what options are available that could better carry out your last wishes.

Step 2: Do My Beneficiaries Need to be Updated?

Beneficiaries are typically named when a life insurance is purchased, and they determine who will be eligible to receive the proceeds of the policy upon your death. Therefore, it is important to regularly review who your named beneficiary is.  Marriage, divorce, and death of a loved one are all reasons to do a review of your beneficiary and potentially assign a new one if necessary. Beneficiaries can be individuals, a corporation, business partners, a registered charity, or your estate.

Step 3: Have I Experience Any Major Life Changes?

Insurance needs change as life changes. Major life events warrant a total insurance review. Examples of life changes can affect your insurance needs:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Purchasing a Home
  • Birth of a Child
  • Owning a Business
  • Death of a Partner
  • Gaining custody of a dependent
  • Taking on significant debt

You may find your insurance need is greater than when you initially purchased your life

insurance policy.

Step 4: Have I Reached Any Financial Milestones?

Have you paid off your mortgage? Paid off your business loan? You may not require the same amount or type of insurance policy.  Reaching a big milestone like this could mean you could be better served by different type of policy. For example, if your $5 million business loan was covered by a term policy of the same amount, you may no longer require such a high face value. It may be more beneficial to convert the policy for a smaller amount (i.e… $1 million) to a more permanent policy.

Step 5: Have My Premiums Changed?

This is particularly relevant when it comes to term policies. At the end of a term, a term life insurance policy automatically reviews. This can drastically increase the premium. Since policies renew automatically, it is possible your premium has increased since purchasing the policy.

The Bottom Line

As a rule, you should do a life insurance review every 2-3 years.  You may be surprised at how much your life has changed!  Your life insurance advisor can help you review your policies and make recommendations based on your ever-changing situation.

Book an appointment to discuss your insurance needs – Click Here

Converting an RRSP to a RRIF

If you are nearing retirement, you may be starting to think about creating retirement income for yourself from your RRSPs. Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) are considered accumulation vehicles.  This means they are used to save for your retirement in a tax efficient way. When the time comes to start using your hard-earned savings to fund your retirement, you may want to consider moving them to a payout vehicle called a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF).

Much like an RRSP, a RRIF is a tax deferred account that allows your investments to grow without immediate tax implications. The purpose of a RRIF is to distribute your savings to you in your retirement years while still allowing your money to grow tax deferred.

What You Need to Know

When to Convert Your RRSP to a RRIF

You can convert your RRSP to a RRIF at any time, but you must do so by the end of the year that you turn 71. This conversion must be done regardless of whether you need income. Once you convert your RRSP to a RRIF you must start taking scheduled income.

If you are under 71 and do not require a steady stream of income, it is often beneficial to keep the funds in an RRSP. This way you can still take money out, if necessary, but the account can continue to grow without being drawn down on a regular basis.

How to Convert Your RRSP to a RRIF

It is important to convert your RRSP directly a RRIF to avoid unnecessary taxation. The process is simple but should be done with the guidance of a financial advisor to ensure the conversion is done correctly and in a timely manner.

Step 1: Fill Out a RRIF Application – Converting a RRSP to RRIF will require that you open a new account. Your advisor will prepare the paperwork for you.

Step 2: Name Beneficiaries – Registered accounts allow investors to name a beneficiary. Beneficiary designations allow money to be passed quickly and directly to a spouse or qualified dependent in the event of your death. Spouses and qualified dependents are eligible to receive the proceeds tax free. You can leave the money to anyone you wish; but they will be taxed on the amount received.

Step 3: Determine a Withdrawal Schedule – There are several considerations when withdrawing from your RRIF:

  • Payments from a RRIF must begin the year after your 71st birthday.
  • All payments are considered taxable income in the year they are received.
  • RRIFs are subject to minimum withdrawal requirements and a certain percentage must be withdrawn each year. The percentage that must be withdrawn increases as you age. There are no maximum withdrawal amounts.
  • You can choose to receive payments monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.
  • You can elect use your spouse’s age to calculate the minimum withdrawal. This can allow you to keep the funds in the account longer and retain their tax deferred status.
  • Any withdrawals over the minimum amount are subject to withholding tax.

The Bottom Line

It is important to pay close attention to the timing of converting your RRSP to a RRIF. If the RRIF is not established by the end of the year in which you turn 71, the account will be deregistered and all the funds in the account will become taxable income to you in that year. Plan well in advance to ensure you keep the registered status of your investments!

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Why Your Advisor Should Be Your Go To Person

A recent study, Understanding and Managing the Risks of Retirement, by the Society of Actuaries has shown that only 52% of pre-retirees and only 44% of retirees are consulting a Financial Advisor. That means that roughly half of the population is seeking financial advice outside of a financial professional, whether that be friends, family, colleagues, or Google. We live in a time where we turn to technology for everything. We can quickly search anything we want to know, and as a result, we are inundated with information. When it comes to dealing with our finances, this approach can be confusing and overwhelming. By making your financial advisor your first point of contact, you know that you are being provided with knowledge that is relevant to your financial situation.

What you Need to Know

Working regularly with your financial advisor can bring incredible value to your financial plan. A study by Morningstar found that investors who consistently work with an advisor generate returns that are 1.82% higher than those who do not. Their research also found that investors that actively seek out advice from their advisor accumulate 29% more wealth for retirement than those investors who do not.

A Financial advisor can provide you with the kind of expertise and guidance you deserve. You work hard for your money, and while seeking advice from the internet or advice from friends can be convenient, you can’t always trust that it is accurate or relevant. Every investor has specific needs, and there is no one size fits all when it comes to investing. Inaccurate or irrelevant information can lead you to make costly decisions. By talking to your advisor, they can act as a sounding board for the information you read or hear about. An advisor can offer guidance on whether a new concept or product could benefit your portfolio, or if it’s just a trend that offers you no value.

One of the greatest risks to your financial plan is making uninformed decisions during a downturn in the markets. In bearish markets, we are flooded with market information and down-right bad news. Before turning to potentially unreliable sources, consult with your advisor first. Research by the Investment Fund Institute of Canada has shown that individuals who have worked with a financial advisor and have a customized plan are twice as likely to rebalance appropriately during a downturn. Making your advisor you first contact will allow you to filter out the panic and allow you to see the facts, therefore keeping your goals on track!

The Bottom Line

By getting in the habit of talking to your financial advisor before looking for advice elsewhere, you can reduce the risk of falling prey to inaccurate and irrelevant information. If you trust in the expertise that your advisor can provide, you can reap the benefits of higher returns and higher level of wealth in retirement. In other words, you can reach your financial potential!

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Owe More Taxes than You Can Pay? Here Are Your Options.

Tax season is upon us and unfortunately that means paying any taxes that may be outstanding. Taxes should be carefully planned each year to ensure they do not become overwhelming, but what happens if you are faced with an unexpectedly large bill?

The most important thing to do if you have a large tax bill coming your way is to file your taxes on time.  Avoidance does not work with the CRA and it is best to face tax debt head one.  Delaying will only end up with additional penalties. There are a number of strategies available to help you deal with your tax debt.

What You Need to Know

1. Get a Personal Loan: This is the first step the CRA will expect you to take to pay off your debt.  Personal loans, borrowing against the value of your home, or borrowing from an individual are all options here. This will be the path of least resistance for most people. A personal loan will wipe out your debt to the CRA and allow you to create a reasonable payment plan for your situation that gives you flexibility to defer if necessary.

2. Access the Value in Your Home: Your home is often the biggest asset you own. Therefore, there are usually options to borrow against the value of the home. This can be done is a few ways:

  • Home Equity Line of Credit: The first options are looking into lending products such as a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). HELOC’s work by allowing a homeowner to take out of large line of credit on their home.  Many people use these products as a mortgage alternative, but they also work to access the value of your home without selling the property.
  • Refinancing your Home: Refinancing is essentially taking a new mortgage out on your house. If you currently have a mortgage, this may mean replacing that mortgage with a new one that has a higher principal amount. If you are currently living mortgage free, this means picking a mortgage on the house as you normally would if you were buying a new house.
  • Use Your House as Collateral for a Loan: Many loans, especially those of large amounts, require collateral before they are issued. This means the lending institution wants something of value put up against the loan in case the loan is not repaid.
  • Sell Your Property: A last resort but selling a property may be the only way to gain access to its value if you are unable to secure financing.

3. Request for Taxpayer Relief: Individuals with outstanding debts to the CRA may be able to request “Taxpayer Relief”. Taxpayer Relief can reduce your amount owing by offering relief from penalties and interest charges.  Typically, taxpayer relief is only granted under extraordinary circumstances such as job loss, serious illness, and a clear inability to pay. Taxpayers must submit a formal request to the CRA using form RC4288 and submitting complete and accurate documentation of their circumstances.

4. Request a Payment Plan: Taxpayers may request a payment plan from the CRA but only after they have exhausted all other reasonable options to pay their balance i.e. Personal loan, refinancing house etc. Payment plans are typically not available for large amounts that can’t be repaid in a year. When negotiating a payment plan with the CRA it is always best to involve a tax professional who can make the negotiation for you.  CRA negotiators are experienced and their main concern is getting the balance owing as quickly as possible. It isn’t uncommon for taxpayers to enter a payment plan that is unrealistic for their financial situation.  CRA’s priority will always be the debt owed to them.

5. Declare Bankruptcy: Declaring bankruptcy has devastating short- and long-term financial effects and should only be utilized as an absolute last resort. Assets could be ceased and you will be unable to obtain credit for many years.  All options should be exhausted before resorting to bankruptcy. Hiring a debt counselor to help you decide if bankruptcy is indeed your only option would be prudent.

The Bottom Line

Tax debt can be overwhelming but realize there are options available to you.  It is always recommended that a professional tax consultant be hired if debt becomes unmanageable. They can help you consolidate debt, make payment plans, and negotiate with the CRA on your behalf.

What Does Having a Pre-Existing Condition Mean for Your Life Insurance?

It’s a common misconception that having a pre-existing condition means that you automatically do not qualify for life insurance. The good news is this is not always the case and armed with a good life insurance agent, many individuals with pre-existing conditions get approved for insurance. The path to being insured just may look a little different for someone with a medical condition.

What You Need to Know

1.Work with a Broker

There are many life insurance carriers in Canada and each company has a different set of underwriting guidelines and level of flexibility. It is crucial to reach out to a number of companies when trying to get a pre-existing condition covered. Working with a broker is the most efficient way to research companies as most life insurance brokers have the ability to work with any company they choose. This also means they will have knowledge of which companies work best for hard-to-insure clients.

2. Understand Traditional Underwriting vs Non-Medical Underwriting

Many companies now offer non-medical underwriting. This usually means that applicants will be asked a number of medical questions and if the questions satisfy the insurance company then the insurance will be approved. If they don’t, the application will be rejected. This can work in the favor of someone with a pre-existing condition if the questions either:

a) do not ask about that particular condition

b) the question asked about that condition is forgiving (example: you are diabetic but the application only asked if you are an insulin dependent diabetic).

However, sometimes traditional underwriting can be the best option for someone with a pre-existing condition. Traditional underwriting can allow you the opportunity to make a case for a well-managed pre-existing condition through in person exams and doctors statements. If the applicant doesn’t qualify for non-medical insurance because of a condition there is usually no wiggle room with the insurer.

3. Manageable Condition vs Severe Condition

Not all pre-existing conditions are treated the same by insurers. Life insurance companies put each applicant through an underwriting process that uses in person medical exams, claim histories, and underwriting guides to determine whether or not they will insure someone. There is a big difference to an insurance company between someone with a manageable condition and someone with a severe condition.

For example, having high blood pressure is considered to be a pre-existing condition. However, it is a condition that can often be managed by medication and lifestyle choices. Therefore, an insurer may look at someone with high blood pressure and determine that their condition is well under control and be willing to make an offer to insure.

Conversely, someone who has been diagnosed with a terminal cancer would be considered to have a severe and unmanageable condition that would cause the insurer to reject the application.

4. Guaranteed Acceptance Products

Many companies offer guaranteed acceptance life insurance products and sometimes this is the only option for applicants with a pre-existing condition.  These products are typically offered with high premiums and small face amounts.  As well as higher premiums, they usually contain a deferred provision. This means that the insured is expected to pay premiums for two years before the insurer will pay out the death benefit. In the event the insured dies within the first two years, the premiums are most often paid back to the beneficiary. This can be a good option for those who are otherwise uninsurable but would like to have something to cover final expenses.

The Bottom Line

Knowledge is power when it comes to getting approved for life insurance and so is having a good advisor to guide you along the way. Be sure to bring a complete list of medical conditions and any medications you are on when meeting with a life advisor so that they can help you sort through companies and products to find the best fit for you.

Book an appointment with us to discuss your Life Insurance needs! Click Here

Creating a Healthier Lifestyle

The Covid-19 pandemic has upset the habits and routines of many people. Staying safe and healthy has become a constant concern. The effects of the pandemic are taking a toll on people’s health, both mental and physical.  It is more important than ever to eat right, stay active, and do things that make you happy. When it comes to creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself, getting started is the hardest part. Here are a few tips to help you navigate all the information available on diet, hobbies, and fitness!

Diets-You Are What You Eat!

Health starts with what you are eating, and it is important to follow evidence-based nutritional sources. Fad diets are running rampant on the internet and it can be easy to get lost in the promises some of these diets make. Paleo diet, Keto diet, Atkins diet, Raw diet, South Beach diet, to name a few, all make promises of results that may be unrealistic. People are always looking for a quick fix so it can be easy to be swooned by the hype of the diet of the moment. Do not fall into fad diet traps that promise immediate weight loss with minimal effort. As a rule, you should avoid any of the following:

  •  Diets that promise rapid results
  • Diets that claim you can eat whatever you want
  • Diets that cut out specific food groups entirely
  • Diets that require you to skip meals or replace meals with a product

Eating a healthy diet does not need to be complicated or regimented. Making small and sustainable changes to your eating habits will ensure that you stay on track and meet your goals. Canada’s Food Guide recommends that you simply choose to eat mostly fresh foods that include plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein.

The internet is overwhelmed with nutritional information. Make sure that whatever claims a source is making are backed up by science and that the publication is showing the sources they used to compile the information.

Here are a few evidence-based nutrition sources to check out: Canada Food Guide, Health CanadaDieticians of Canada, and Nutritional Link Service.

Hobbies

Spending a lot of time at home can be hard on the head if you do not have a hobby or two to occupy your mind.  Covid-19 restrictions have most of us stuck at home and people have gotten creative about keeping themselves busy. People have taken to things such as breadmaking, sewing, gardening, learning an instrument, virtual book clubs, and other do-it-from-home activities.

The internet is rich with tutorials and forums that allow you to become a part of vast communities of likeminded people. Looking for something more local? Most municipalities have a recreation department that are busy keeping people entertained at home; you just must know where to look.  Check out town websites, library websites, and community centers to see what they are offering. In some regions, there may even be opportunities to gather with others to talk about, work on, or develop new hobbies.

Exercise

Starting a fitness routine may be one of the best things you can do for your health. Physical activity, even in small amounts, can reduce your risk of disease, help you lose weight, have profound effects on your mental health, and even improve your quality of sleep! So how do you get started?

Much like dieting, the internet is teeming with fitness pages, accounts, and how-to’s. It can be hard to know where to begin and it is easy to feel overwhelmed.  The first step is identifying what you think you would enjoy. Below are some of the most popular ways people are working on their fitness:

  • Cross-fit: Cross-fit is a type of High Intensity Interval Training that focuses on performing functional movements at high intensity level.  That may sound intimidating but many of the workouts are group workouts that include people of all abilities. This may a be a great start for many people as it provides an encouraging group of people that will help you stay on track and stay committed.
  • Yoga: Yoga has been popular for a very long time and is a great low impact activity. Yoga focuses on body and mind, with lots of emphasis on breathing and stretching. Yoga is something that you can do at home easily as there is very little, if any, equipment needed!
  • Spin: Spin classes are huge right now and do not seem to be going anywhere any time soon.  Usually, spin is taught at a facility in a group setting with an instructor to encourage and lead the class.   If you are unable to attend a spin class due to Covid-19 restrictions, there are stationary bikes on the market now that have spin classes built right into them.
  • Running: Running communities are present almost everywhere.  This makes a great starter activity. It is easy to find running groups near you that offer learn-to-run programs to help get you started. Running can be a very social sport which is great for both your physical and mental health.

Bottom Line

Sometimes organized sport and fitness can be a little intense and that is okay, because there are so many ways to get active without having to commit to one thing. Walking, hiking, skating, intermural sports, pickup leagues, tennis… these are all fantastic ways to start moving in a way that is fun and less intimidating. Regardless of what you choose to do, always remember to work within your limits and listen to your body. If you have health concerns, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor before engaging in a new fitness regime.

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5 Ways to Avoid Capital Gains Tax

Capital Gains tax occurs when you sell capital property for more than you paid for it. In Canada, you are only taxed on 50% of your capital gain. For example, if you bought an investment for $25,000 and sold it for $75,000 you would have a capital gain of $50,000.  You would then be taxed on 50% of the gain. In this instance, you would pay tax on $25,000.  In Canada, there are some legitimate ways to avoid paying this tax: Tax shelters, Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption, Capital Losses, Deferring, and Charitable Giving. *

What You Need to Know

1.   Tax Shelters

RRSPs and TFSAs are investment vehicles that are available to Canadians that allow investments to be bought and sold with no immediate tax implications:

  • RRSPs – Registered Retirement Savings Plans are popular tax sheltering accounts.  Investments in these accounts grow tax free and you are not subject to capital gains on profits.  When you withdraw your funds, you will be taxed at your marginal tax rate.
  • TFSAs – Tax Free Savings Accounts are like RRSPs in that they allow investments to grow tax free and you are not subject to capital gains tax on the profits you make. The key difference between TFSAs and RRSPs is that TFSAs hold after tax dollars. This means you can withdraw from the account without incurring tax penalties.

2.   Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption

The Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption is available to some small business owners in Canada. It is allowing them to avoid capital gains when they sell shares of their business, a farming property, or fishing property. The CRA determines the exemption amount annually.  The Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption amount is cumulative over your lifetime and can be used until the entire amount has been applied.

3.   Offset Capital Losses

Generally, if you have had an allowable capital loss for the year, you can use it offset any capital gain tax you have owing. This can reduce or eliminate the taxes you will owe. There are a few considerations for employing this strategy:

  • Losses have to a real loss in the eyes of the CRA. Superficial losses will not be allowed to offset gains.
  • You can carry your losses forward or backward to apply them to different tax years. Losses can be carried back 3 years and carried forward indefinitely. This means you can accumulate losses that can be used to offset gains in future years.

4.   Defer Your Earnings

A possible strategy is to defer your earnings on the sale of an asset because you only will owe tax on the earnings that you have received.  For example, if you sell a property for $200,000 you could ask the buyer to stagger their payments over 4 years. Then you would receive $50,000 a year. This would allow you to spread out your capital gain tax.

This strategy is known as the Capital Gain Reserve.  There are a few things you need to keep in mind before using this strategy:

  • The Capital Gains Reserve can be claimed up to 5 years.
  • There is a 20% inclusion rate for each year. This means you must include at least 20% of the proceeds in your income each year for up to 5 years.
  • There are some instances that the 5-year period can be extended to 10 years.

5.   Charity

Consider donating shares of property to charities instead of cash. This method allows you to make a charitable donation, receive a tax credit based on the donation, and avoid tax on any profit. Win-win!

* Avoiding or deferring Capital Gain Taxes should always be done with the guidance of a professional financial advisor and accountant to ensure all CRA guidelines are being carefully followed.

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What to Expect When You Are Expecting

Building a home is not for the faint-hearted. A lot of sacrifices and planning are required, especially on the financial side. You do not want to bring your children into the world without proper financial plans. It is even advisable to start planning for kids long before they come. Before having children, you should try as much as possible to settle all debts, budget for child care and support, and apply for tax breaks and other benefits that may be available for children. A lot of questions pop up when trying to plan for your kids and with enough research, you can get adequate answers. We would try as much as possible to answer some of these questions for you.

How Much Insurance Should You Carry On Your Life Once You Have A Family?

When it comes to the type of insurance you should do once you have a family, experts advise that your coverage should be 7 to 10 times your annual income for adequate cover for your family. Surveys show that 74% of Canadians have a life insurance policy but 70% majority are worried that their life insurance is not adequate to take care of their family in the event of their death. Determining what will be considered as enough for life insurance is almost an impossible task because families differ but there is a general formula you can use. This formula is known as DIME – Debts, Income, Mortgage, and Education. DIME is the total sum of:

  • All your current and future debts;
  • The multiplication of the number of years your family will need your income with your current annual income;
  • What you owe on your mortgage and any expense on renovation or expansion; and
  • How much will cost to send your kids to school up until the level you wish.

What you want in your life insurance cover depends on what you want to leave behind for them. Life insurance is not for you but your family.

 Do You Need A Living Will?

A living Will, also known as Personal/Advance Directive is a document that contains your preference and wishes for your personal and medical needs for when you are unable to make such decisions. The document takes care of your end-of-life affairs whilst still alive. You need a living Will to take care of things for when you can’t make key decisions. It also spares your family from making difficult decisions in your absence. A living Will protects you and your family, just like insurance. Anything could happen at any time, it could be a ski accident, stroke, or bike crash that may incapacitate you, with a living Will in place, you are still in control of your life. A living Will must include who to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf, the level of their authority, your medical wishes, and the welfare of your family if you are incapacitated. Ensure you find out the laws that govern a living Will in your province.

How Early Do You Need To Begin Estate Planning To Ensure That Your Child Is Given Your Inheritance?

Estate planning is an important decision you need to make so as to adequately provide for your family. It is a detailed plan on how you want your assets to be distributed when you depart. It has its tax benefits, and it helps you structure and manages your finances both when you are alive and after you are gone. You can engage the services of a lawyer or use estate planning kits, apps, and websites with estate planning templates. If you choose the latter, it is advisable to give a lawyer to review for you. Estate planning involves documents like a Will, power of attorney, and a living Will. which is why you may need to consult, lawyers, tax experts, and financial planners when you want to come up with an estate plan.

There is no rule of thumb that states the exact time you should start your estate plan. Experts will say once you cross the threshold of being a minor, you can start your estate planning while some people choose to come up with an estate plan when they clock 40 or are diagnosed with a terminal disease. This means that you could start as early as when you clock 18 or when you are close to the great beyond of which you must still have the legal capacity to come up with an estate plan. it does not really matter when you begin your estate planning as long as you meet the legal requirements of making and your plans and wishes are clearly articulated. You should also make sure you update your estate plan every 3 to five years.

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Donating Life Insurance Policies

For many individuals there comes a time when life insurance is no longer needed. Whether it be a spouse has passed away, your children are grown, or you simply have the wealth to cover any unexpected expenses. A common route is to cancel life insurance and take the cash surrender value. This may be the solution for some individuals, but many policy owners may be interested in keeping the coverage in force and gifting the life insurance to a charity. Upon their death they could leave a lasting legacy in their community and receive a potentially substantial tax break.

What You Need to Know

How to Donate a Policy

Method 1: Charity as a Beneficiary

The most common way to donate a policy to charity is to simply name the charity as the beneficiary of the life insurance policy. The insured would simply assign the charity as the beneficiary, and upon their death the charity would receive a tax-free lump sum payout. The insureds estate would then receive a tax credit based on the amount of the gift.

Method 2: Charity as Policy Owner & Beneficiary

Another option is to have the charity of your choice agree to take over ownership of the policy and become the beneficiary. Similar to the previous method, the charity would still receive the tax- free payout upon the insured death, avoiding probate. The difference between this method and the previous method is that the insured would receive a tax credit immediately. If the insured continues to pay the premium, they will receive additional tax credits as well.

This method comes with more considerations then simply naming the charity as the beneficiary. The first and most important consideration is whether or not the charity is willing to take on ownership. If the insured does not plan to pay the policy premiums anymore it is possible charity may not be able to take over the premium payments. It may be an extended process to find a donor who would be able and willing to take on such a commitment. One solution to this problem may be to donate a policy that is functioning has gone paid up. Paid up policies allow their cash value to pay the premiums, eliminating the need for payor.  Another consideration is the possibility that the charity will no longer be operating at the time of the insured’s death. Both of these matters would require extensive planning to avoid.

Lastly, since the tax credit would be granted while the donor is alive, it is important to ensure that the entire tax credit can be used. Living taxpayers are only eligible for a tax credit that is worth 75% of their income for the year and can only be carried forward up to 5 years. It is not unlikely that the FMV of the life insurance policy would be more than the insureds yearly income, causing a portion of the tax benefits to be lost.

Case Study

Mary is a 71-year-old widow. All of her children are grown and independent. Mary lives very comfortably on her retirement savings and her husband’s life insurance proceeds. Many years ago, Mary purchased a whole life participating life insurance policy for herself in the event she was to die before her husband. She has recently realized that she no longer needs the coverage, as she has sufficient savings to settle her estate and leave an inheritance to her children. Mary does not want to cancel the policy as it has grown substantially over the years.

Mary’s insurance advisor recommends that she donate the life insurance to a charity. Her advisor explains that if she makes a charity her beneficiary then the charity will receive the life insurance benefit upon her death and her estate will receive a tax credit for an amount equal to the FMV of the donated policy.

This option sounds very appealing to Mary, as she is an active volunteer in her community and she understands the good her donation could do.  Her advisor refers her to an actuary and underwriter, who evaluate her policy to have a FMV of $250,000.

By choosing this option, Mary was able to give a substantial gift to the charity of her choice and was able to reduce her taxes upon her death in her estate, leaving more money for her family.

The Bottom Line

Make sure you talk to your advisor about all of your options before cancelling your life insurance policies. Donating a policy is a little known or talked about option, but it may the perfect solution for some people. Your advisor can help you find the resources necessary to make transactions such as this as successful and beneficial as possible.

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The Insanity of RRSP Season

As each February concludes and RRSP contribution season ends, investors across Canada exhale and exclaim, “Never again.”  Investors go through a swirl of emotions awaiting annual bonuses and jumping through hoops to make their annual RRSP contribution. And the next year, they will do it all over again. To change this hamster-wheel of hastily called meetings, sound recommendations hobbled by hurried decisions the planning should begin long before RRSP season. There is no time like the present to change the upcoming flurry of activity associated with RRSPs.

Most importantly of all, a last-minute approach to retirement saving and investing means that you do not benefit as much as you could. Instead of enjoying the rewarding experience of saving for the future, it becomes a panicked, last-minute appointment. This is far from the measured, planned and calm approach that trusted Advisors espouse. A new routine can be created with a Pre-Authorized Credit (PAC) that makes regular contributions to your RRSP.

 What you need to know

What would be the difference to an investor between depositing $24,000 per year at the end of February versus $2,000 at the beginning of every month?  The difference becomes clear when calculated over a 20-year period. In both scenarios an investor has contributed the same amount, $600,000 (25 x $24,000 or 300 x $2,000).

But the amount at the end of the period is not the same! 

  • At 6% after 25 years the annual $24,000 approach will yield $1,316,748
  • At 6% after 25 years the monthly $2,000 approach will yield $1,385,988

A difference of nearly $70,000!

In almost every case, this is a conservative estimate. The difference is usually much larger because an investor who commits to monthly contributions and agrees to a PAC (Pre-Authorized Contributions) is much more disciplined. An annual, large payment is more susceptible to the negative effects of variations in year-end bonuses and a year of day-to-day spending. The temptation is to believe that, if skipped, payments can be caught-up later, which the effects of compound interest make it difficult to achieve.

 The Bottom Line

Setting up a monthly PAC can help you retire sooner. The only difference is how frequently you make your RRSP contributions. Nothing more, nothing less.

Contact us to discuss starting or increasing your RRSP PAC!! Click Here!

3 Essential Considerations for Women Who Are Planning for Retirement

Retirement Planning is not the same for both women and men. Women face unique hurdles and risks that do not affect their male counterparts.  These risks include outliving their money, earning less but having more financial obligation, and aversion to take risks with their money.

What You Need to Know

  1. Longevity: On average, women live five years long than men do. This can have a big impact on the amount of money women need to have saved for retirement.  Women also tend to underestimate how long they will live for. Many women live into their 90’s, but only plan to live into their 70s. It is clear that longevity is one of, if not the, biggest risk women face when it comes to their finances. Women, on average, retire with only two-thirds the money that men do. So not only are they living longer than men, they are trying to do so on less.
  2. More Caregiving, Less Income: It is no secret that the burden on family rearing falls onto women.  Women are more likely than men to take time off to care for children or elderly family members, women are more likely than men to be single parents, women see wages drop after having a child (71 cents to the dollar for men), and women spend 50% more time than men caregiving. What we can derive from this information is that women are expected to work less, work FOR less, and spend more on their families.  This dramatically effects a women’s ability to save.
  3. Risk Aversion: Women tend to be more risk adverse than men. This desire for security within their investments can hurt their returns and put them even further behind when it comes to meeting retirement goals.  The tendency for women to be more risk adverse makes sense.  They are earning less, so therefore saving less, and have more family responsibility then men. Women may feel like they do not have the money to take risks and this needs to be accounted for when creating a retirement plan.

The Bottom Line

So, what can women do to boost their retirement savings?  They must save more aggressively than men, and earlier than men. This can be easier said than done.  Working with an advisor early can help women get ahead. Setting up automatic monthly RRSP contributions, maxing out company pension plans, and having a plan in writing are all things women can do to accelerate their savings.

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RESPs 101

Not only has the cost of university risen sharply, but so has the importance of graduating with a marketable skill and knowledge set. In 2016, the cost of tuition, books, supplies, residence and travel for a student in an undergraduate program at a Canadian public university is approximately $20,000 per year.

For many new grandparents, Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) were not as commonly known as when their children passed through post-secondary education.

If you want to conscientiously pass wealth between generations and help minimize your grandkids’ debt load in the future, opening and contributing to an RESP on behalf of your grandchildren is an excellent option.

What you need to know

The opportunity to set aside a useful inheritance directly to your grandchildren for the expressed purpose of education is extremely appealing for many.

Although more in-depth analysis may be required to understand the eligibility for the Canadian Education Savings Grant (CESG), the quick RESP facts are:

  •  The CESG will match 20% of RESP contributions up to a maximum of $500/year per beneficiary and to a maximum of $7200 lifetime per beneficiary.
  • There are no minimum or maximum annual RESP contributions, but each beneficiary has a $50,000 lifetime contribution limit.
  • Contributions grow tax-free until they are withdrawn, like an RRSP.
  • Contributions are not taxed at withdrawal, only the grants and earnings withdrawn, called Education Assistance Payments (EAP) are taxed.
  • EAPs are taxed in the hands of the student, typically a lower income tax rate or no tax at all if their income is low enough

EAPs can be used for education-related expenses, including housing and transportation, when enrolled at any eligible domestic or foreign post-secondary institution or training program. You can contribute to an RESP up to its 31st year and it can stay open for 35 years.

Bottom Line

Canadian Education Savings Grants (CESG) provide an annual $500 and lifetime $7200 incentive to save for your grandchildren’s post-secondary education by contributing to an RESP. All the contribution and grant money will grow tax free to help fund any education-related expenses for your grandchild’s future education.

If you’re concerned about your children funding a post-secondary education for your grandchildren, give us a call. We can provide you with details and a plan that will allow your grandkids to go after their dreams!

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How To Create A Portfolio For The Long Run

The concept of investment is no longer alien and almost everyone now has one form of investment or the other tucked away somewhere. Even new babies now have investments. Just as there is no age limit to investing so is there no limit to the extent of time you can hold your investment. You can hold your investments for decades and reap multiple profits on them. It is not all about having a long-term investment portfolio; there is a science to it also. It is important to be strategic in your choice of investment portfolios. Everyone has a risk appetite, and it is important to choose an investment portfolio that conforms with your risk principles. Another key factor to having a healthy long-term investment portfolio is adapting your investment approach to the changing dynamics of the financial market.

Secrets To Creating a Long-term Investment Portfolio 

When it comes to having an investment portfolio, it is important that you make the right decisions. This is what will ensure a healthy investment portfolio. If you are looking to grow your wealth over a 20-to-25-year span, you should try the following tips:

  1. Select The Appropriate Asset Allocation: At this stage, you use your current financial situation to determine how you want to spread out your investment portfolio. To successfully do this, you must consider your age, the amount of capital you want to invest, and your risk appetite. Your risk appetite is important because when it comes to investment, you will make losses at one point or the other. So, depending on your risk appetite, you should choose an investment portfolio that is in line with your risk appetite. You should also consider your current expenses as you do not want to invest all your money and be left with nothing to settle your bills.
  2. Structuring Your Portfolio: After determining how you want to allocate your investment portfolios, the next thing to do is to determine how much goes into each portfolio. This is where you determine how much goes into bonds, stocks, and cryptocurrencies. You can also go further by further dividing your portfolio allocations. For example, if you have an equity portfolio, you may decide to spread it across different industries to minimize your risks. You can also spread your bond portfolio into short-term bonds and long-term bonds.
  3. Monitoring and Reviewing: After successfully structuring your investment portfolios, you need to keep an eye on them to make necessary adjustments where necessary. The fact that they are long-term investments does not mean you can abandon them and check them when you are ready to cash out. You analyze your positions from time to time and rebalance them where necessary. This is made necessary because of the constant price movements in the financial market which will make your initial trading positions change. Your current financial needs may also require you to change your position. If you have extra cash to invest, you may want to pump in more money and if you need cash, you may want to deduct from profits already accrued.
  4. Strategic Rebalancing: After reviewing your portfolio and there is a need to rebalance your positions to make your portfolios healthy, you need to go about it in a strategic way.  In other words, while you identify a performing portfolio, you should also determine the portfolio you can use the proceeds of the performing security to buy. These are strategic decisions that must be taken carefully to ensure an all-round healthy investment portfolio over a long period.

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What Business Owners Need to Know About Health Spending Accounts

Employers are always looking for an edge when it comes to attracting new talent and offering comprehensive employee benefits is one of the best ways to do so. Health Spending Accounts, also referred to as Private Health Services Plans, offer both business owners and their employees a flexible health benefits solution that can work as a replacement or compliment to traditional health plans.

What You Need to Know

  1.  How It Works – A Health Spending Account (HSA) is an account with a predetermined dollar amount that employees can use to cover health expenses that are not covered by their traditional health plan.  The amount in the account is predetermined at the beginning of the year by the plan sponsor (employer).  The employees may apply to be reimbursed for eligible medical expenses for both themselves and their dependents.
  2. What It Covers – Eligible expenses are determined by the CRA. The general rule is you can claim anything that can be claimed as a medical expense by the Income Tax Act. An HSA is available to cover unpaid balances that are not covered by your health plan, governments plans, or your spouse’s plan. For example, the HSA covers services such as vision care, dental care, and drug expenses that are not otherwise covered (such as fertility drugs).
  3. Tax Implications – Businesses may deduct HSA payments made on behalf of employees and their dependents.  Benefits are received tax free by the employees. There are different rules for HSAs for incorporated and unincorporated businesses:

Incorporated

  •  The Income Tax Act does not place a limit on the amount of deductions allowed for HSA premiums in a corporation.
  • Can be set up with only shareholders as employees
  • Payments for medical expenses may only be received by the shareholder as an employee
  • Shareholder must be actively engaged in business activities.
  • Benefits must be reasonable and be consistent with what would be offered to an arm’s length employee.

Self Employed or Partnership

  •  Expenses may be deductible if:
  • Individual is actively engaged in business
  • In current or preceding tax year, more than 50% of income is from the business or individual’s income is less than $10,000 from other sources.
  • Health Spending Account may not be accepted by CRA if the self-employed individual does not have at least one arm’s length employee.

The Bottom Line

Health Spending Accounts are a useful and beneficial tool that can be used by business owners to supplement their employee’s health coverage. Health Spending Accounts can help business owners budget their yearly expense more effectively as the cost of the plan is determined by the business owner, rather than traditional health benefits which have increasing yearly premiums based on claims.  It is important for business owners to pay close attention to the CRA rules surrounding HSAs to ensure that they are eligible for the deductions that are offered to plan sponsors.

Defined Contribution Pension Plans vs Group RRSP: A Guide for Business Owners

Employers have several options available to them when it comes to setting up a retirement savings plan for their employees. Defined Contribution Pension Plans and Group RRSPs are the most accessible plans to most businesses. Here is what you need to know about each plan and how they can work for your employees.

What Is A Defined Contribution Pension Plan?

Defined Contribution Pension Plans are an employer sponsored retirement savings option available to Canadian business owners and their employees. Defined Contribution Pensions Plans are made up of a combination of employee contributions, employers’ contributions, and an optional voluntary contribution component. Defined Contribution Pension Plans are regulated by provincial pension laws, which varies from province to province.

What Is a Group RRSP? 

A Group Registered Retirement Savings Plan (Group RRSP) is an employer sponsored retirement savings plan. Group RRSP’s have many similarities to individual RRSPs with the only difference being that they are administered on a group basis. The plans are made up of employee and employer contributions, but unlike traditional pensions, the employer is not required to contribute any amount to the plan.

Similarities and Difference 

  1. Tax Deferred Savings: Both Defined Contribution Pension Plans and Group RRSPs offer tax deferred savings for employees that contribute to them.  Contributions are taken at the source before tax and contributed to the plans on the employee’s behalf. Both investment options allow employees investments to grow tax free until they retire, at which point the funds with be taxed as they are withdrawn.
  2. Contribution Limits: Both plans are subject to annual contribution limits. This amount is equal to a percentage of each employee’s income from the previous year. Both employee and employer contributions count towards this annual limit.  Both plans will also cause a pension adjustment to employees. This means their individual RRSP will be reduced based on the amount contributed to their employer sponsored plan. This keeps an equal playing field for those who do not have work pensions.
  3. Age Limits: Defined Contribution Pension Plans and Group RRSPs both require that employees stop contributing to the plan and start drawing on the funds at age 71. At this point, employees must convert the plans to an income fund that will pay them out a retirement income.  For Defined Contribution Pension Plans, this fund is called a Life Income Fund (LIF).  LIFs have minimum and maximum withdrawal requirements that plan holders must adhere to.   Group RRSPs holders have two options at age 71. Plan members can a) cash out the plan and pay all tax owing or b) convert the plan to a RRIF and start taking an income.  RRIFs have minimum withdrawal requirements that plan holders must adhere to.

Pros and Cons

Defined Contribution Pension Plans 

Pros

  • Attractive to Employees due to the employer matching component. This can greatly accelerate employee’s retirement savings
  • Funds are locked-in and therefore not accessible until the employee retires. They do not have the option to spend their retirement savings frivolously.
  • Funds grow tax free if they stay in the account
  • Employer Contributions are tax deductible
  • Typically, the investments offered in a pension plan have a much lower fee than traditional investments.
  • Simple, reduced selection of investment options available within the plan.

Cons 

  • Defined Benefit Pension Plans can come with higher administration costs and require continuous maintenance.
  • Due to the fact funds are locked in, employees have little to no flexibility in how they use the money they accumulate.
  • Employer contributions are expected. This can be a significant expense, depending on how many employees a business has.
  • Benefits at plan end are at the mercy of market fluctuations.

Group RRSP 

Pros

  • Employer contributions are not mandatory. This allows for businesses to offer their employees a retirement savings option regardless of the financial abilities of the company, with the flexibility for the company to contribute at any point if it becomes feasible.
  • Funds grow tax free if they stay in the account.
  • Group RRSPS have low start up and maintenance costs.
  • Generally, Group RRSP have a must larger investment shelf than pension plans.
  • No legislative regulation means flexibility for employees to dip into their savings if necessary ie. Home buyers’ program or Lifelong Learners Program.

Cons 

  • Employees have the option to withdraw from the plan at any time, which can severely impact their retirement savings.
  • Larger investment shelves mean more opportunity for employees to take unnecessary or unsuitable risk with their investments.
  • Employer Contributions are a taxable benefit to employees
  • Benefits to employee are not guaranteed and are subject to market fluctuations

Bottom Line

Both plans offer their advantages and disadvantages, with each having something unique to offer. Whichever you choose for your business, you can rest assured you are helping your employees work towards a financially secure retirement!

 

Lumber Pricing and how it may Affect your Investment

Lumber is an essential building material that dictates the price of housing in a way. The price of lumber has been on the increase for a few years now and it was later accompanied by shortage supply at the beginning of global lockdown engendered by the global pandemic in 2020. The effect of the price increase has been felt in the real estate sector as the prices of construction and homes have been on the increase. On the supply end, the gradual return to normal economic activities has seen an increase in the production of lumber flood the market. However, it is still yet to meet the already increased demand since the global lockdown.

 

How Does Lumber Pricing Work?

Lumber pricing works the way any other market commodity works. The forces of demand and supply dictate the price of lumber. The demand for lumber has witnessed an astronomic increase in the last six months which has inevitably driven up the prices almost at 170%. The lockdown forced people to work from home which afforded them time to take care of their home. Most people started to take on DIY projects of remodeling and home expansion which inevitably drove up the demand for lumber. During the lockdown, it was reported that home renovations increased by 40% in Canada during the lockdown up until late 2020. While there seems to be no problem with the demand side, the supply end has witnessed a bit of up and down, especially with the covid-19 pandemic. Health precaution imposed by the government meant that most of the sawmills had to close down or cut on production which caused a bit of unbalance between demand and supply. This also has had its fair share on the price increase of lumber.

 

What Does The High Lumber Pricing Hold For Your Real Estate Investment?

There have been a lot of questions and uncertainty on the implications of the increased lumber prices in the real estate sector. For house owners who either want to increase the taste of their home by remodeling or home expansion, the short supply and increase in the high price of lumber may put pay or delay your project. The Natural Resource Canada conducted a survey in which it was revealed that a square foot of lumber that cost $11 in March 2020 now goes for $35 in March 2021. When you consider the cost of transportation and the cost of labour if it is not a DIY project, then you may want to hold off on the remodeling. In research by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, a renovation could cost you an additional $30,000 due to the high prices of lumber. For potential home buyers, it is not good news also. If a homeowner spends a considerable amount due to high lumber prices to renovate and remodel the property in order to increase the real estate value, it is only natural to want to recoup the money from the value placed on the property. This means that the value placed on properties will further increase. The high prices of lumber have made investing in real estate a tricky business.

 

How To Cushion The Investment On Your Home?

The situation of the real estate market may require that you engage the services of a professional financial advisor that will guide you on how to go about your real estate investment. For homeowners who want to take on a project of home expansion or renovation, you can get a home equity line of credit to help you achieve the desired result. You do not have to worry about the interest rate as a home equity line of credit offers a lower rate compared to other types of loan. It is calculated by subtracting your current mortgage liability from the market value of your home. You can also secure a second mortgage and use your home as collateral to access funds for your home renovation and expansion.  This is also available to potential home buyers as you can use the home equity line of credit of your existing property to finance the purchase of another property.

 

Conclusion

Experts are keenly watching the lumber market to make an accurate prediction on the future price of lumber. The full resumption of sawmills is a promising sign that supply will be able to level the high demand and mitigate the effect of the high prices of lumber. While prices may not drop drastically anytime soon, stakeholders are drawing encouragement from the fact that we are in a period where lumber dealers reduce their buying to take stock of their lumber purchase in the first quarter of the year.  Feel free to reach out if you would like to discuss outlook and portfolio construction to ensure that your wealth is being maximized.  #ThinkForward

 

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