Injury and job losses push Calgarians to live off credit cards

As people dig out from Alberta’s worst recession in three decades, Troy Media talks to everyday Albertans who are working to become debt free

Injury and job losses push Calgarians to live off credit cardsSpecial Report Part 3 in our five-part series Back in Balance Name: Linda Pierce Age: 53 Residence: Calgary Occupation: Office administrator At one of the lowest points in Linda Pierce’s 10-plus-year debt roller-coaster ride, she worked three part-time jobs while raising three teenage daughters. Amid it all, she suffered an ankle injury that required surgery, a…

Surprise tax bill in the mail was the final straw

Four Albertans rebounding from debt: ‘I was losing sleep and avoiding phone calls from unknown numbers’

Surprise tax bill in the mail was the final strawSpecial Report Part 2 in our five-part series Back in Balance Name: Amy Mahon Occupation: Mother of four children, full-time administrative assistant for Alberta Health Services Age: 41 Amy Mahon remembers her breaking point. It was the day she opened a letter from the Canada Revenue Agency and read that she owed $5,000 in back taxes.…

The stories of four Albertans working to slay their debt demons

Albertans are racking up debt in record levels but help is available

The stories of four Albertans working to slay their debt demonsSpecial Report Part 1 in our 5-part series Back in Balance Albertans are drowning in debt and many don’t even realize it until the creditors come knocking. Almost every week, another distressing report emerges about Canadians’ rising household debt. Albertans consistently sit at the top of the in-the-red list. This province has just come through…

The hard truth about CPP’s failures

Canadians receive meagre rates of return on CPP contributions and the program has other key shortcomings

The hard truth about CPP’s failuresBy Charles Lammam and Hugh MacIntyre The Fraser Institute Misperceptions plague the public’s view of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), despite efforts to provide some clarity. Mark Machin, chief executive officer of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) – the organization tasked with investing CPP contributions – recently hit the road in a cross-country…

Lofty valuations, volatile markets leave investors anxious

It seems as if investors have forgotten how to gauge market uncertainty. Any potential bad news has them panicking

Lofty valuations, volatile markets leave investors anxiousBy Kenneth Kaczkowski and Isaac Maresky Troy Media exclusive The start of 2018 has seen markets flashing red, with investors questioning the stability of the market. February’s meltdown led to a significant market correction of over 10 per cent. Volatility has become just one of several fears, with the recent technology selloff and fears of…

Investing with your conscience – and with common sense

Ethical investing is a bit broader than donating, since the benefits extend beyond supporting a cause to also expecting a financial return

Investing with your conscience – and with common senseMany financial new-age thinkers encourage people to invest ‘ethically,’ based on the notion that your money should be invested in things that do good – for your community, your country or humanity more broadly – instead of just creating financial returns. We’ve been programmed to consider return and risk as the primary (if not only)…

Should you defer collecting CPP and OAS?

Can you afford to hold off and increase your payments later? Will you need more CPP and OAS later in life? And how long do you expect to live?

Should you defer collecting CPP and OAS?Most people know they can start collecting their Canada Pension Plan (CPP) at age 60, even though they’ll get smaller monthly payments than if they waited until 65. Many people just want the money now and don’t care about any added benefits to delaying CPP and Old Age Security (OAS). The standard CPP and OAS…

Looking backward to predict future investment performance

Be sure to read the fine print if you see a variable-rate investment such as an ETF or a mutual fund advertising what looks like a promised future return

Looking backward to predict future investment performanceLong-term investors need to be concerned about personal annualized return – the return on their money over the entire period of the investment. When investing in guaranteed investment certificates (GICs), your annualized return is known when you make your investment. For example, you buy a five-year GIC that pays three per cent so you know…

RRSP or TFSA? Sorting out an investor’s dilemma

TFSAs provide great options. If you build up the money in your TFSA while you’re working, you can draw from it tax-free any time

RRSP or TFSA? Sorting out an investor’s dilemmaK.M. wrote to ask if she should stop making registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) contributions and instead focus on her tax-free savings account (TFSA). With a little personal information from K.M., we decided it would be best for her to focus on her TFSA. Here’s why: K.M. works in a job she’s likely to leave…

Fed’s tax policies hurt families striving to join the middle class

A tax cut rewards families who work hard. Increased transfers make them more reliant on government

By Charles Lammam and Hugh MacIntyre The Fraser Institute Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has repeatedly said it wants to help families “working hard to join the middle class.” But has the government lived up to this rhetoric on personal income taxes, a key policy area where it’s been particularly active? Over their two years in government,…

Do you need mortgage insurance?

It depends. As with all financial planning questions, no one answer fits every situation

Do you need mortgage insurance?“Did I need to take the insurance the bank sold me when I got my mortgage? Do I need mortgage insurance at all?” C.P. wrote and asked. I’m often asked this and the answer is usually the same: That depends. As with all financial planning questions, no one answer fits every situation. The simple answer in…

A tax turnaround that punishes the risk-takers

By targeting small business owners, the federal government is undermining the very essence of economic growth

A tax turnaround that punishes the risk-takersThe federal government has proposed significant changes to the Income Tax Act that would harm small business owners. We've seen this kind of tax turnabout before and it's both ugly and unfair. Some politicians and much of the media are describing these business owners as tax cheats, and have demonized them. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation…

Choosing and maintaining the right life insurance plan

Examining the three types of permanent insurance: term to 100, whole life and universal life plans

Choosing and maintaining the right life insurance planThere are many types of insurance and many ways to look at how it fits into your financial plan. In my last column I wrote about term insurance being the “if you die prematurely” option. In this column, I'm going to do a basic review of permanent life insurance plans. There are three types of…

Life insurance is more affordable than you think

Term insurance allows the most amount of coverage with the least amount of cost for a select period of time

Life insurance is more affordable than you thinkFrom a pure income replacement point of view, perhaps basic term life insurance should be called death insurance. It isn't because people do not like to think of their own mortality. Like all insurance, you pay a monthly or annual premium for life insurance. In exchange, the insurance company pays you – or in the case…

Layer your retirement income to minimize your tax bill

RRSPs aren't the only financial vehicle that help you manage your taxes over time

Layer your retirement income to minimize your tax billHaving multiple retirement income sources is a great idea. And that diversity, with proper planning, can reduce the income tax you pay. Most of us understand the basic retirement savings methods: a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) or a spousal RRSP. We save a little bit of money when we can and reduce the income…