Should you be a Do-It-Yourself investor?

Your time is valuable, and many people don’t have the willingness or knowledge to tackle the task on their own

Should you be a Do-It-Yourself investor?I’m often asked if you should be a do-it-yourself investor or hire someone to give guidance. My answer is always the same: it depends. If you’re a DIY investor, how much time and effort are you willing to put into managing your money? There’s a cost to managing your money no matter how you do…

Home is where the heart is – and where the costs can pile up

When it comes to owning a home versus renting, you can’t just compare the amount of rent you would pay to the amount of a mortgage payment

Home is where the heart is – and where the costs can pile upShould I buy a home or rent? It’s a common question but the answer isn’t as simple you may think – it totally depends on your situation, since there are advantages and disadvantages to both. It’s usually better to own an asset that’s likely to go up in value than to rent an asset that’s…

Diversifying your portfolio in one neat package

An ETF is a low-cost mutual-like fund that trades on the stock market, with a significantly different fee structure

Diversifying your portfolio in one neat packageExchange-traded funds (ETFs) seem to be all the rage. There are more than 600 ETFs traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange and it seems like new ones are being created almost every day. An ETF is basically a diversified investment pool that’s very similar to a mutual fund, with the exception that they’re sold or…

Comparing investment returns is a tricky task

Each investor is unique in their goals and personal risk tolerance, so their investment portfolio should be customized to their situation

Comparing investment returns is a tricky taskYou worked hard for your money and, in turn, your money should be working hard for you. However, when comparing returns, you need to be sure you’re making a fair comparison. Investors often compare their returns to that of a published benchmark such as the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), or to the returns their friends…

Hidden or visible, you’re paying investment fees

Be smart, shop around and make sure you’re aware of the total fees you pay and what you're getting for them

Hidden or visible, you’re paying investment feesSome fees for investments are hidden, some are visible. But there’s always some type of fee or cost involved in investing. Some people will disagree with my broad use of the word fee, but I believe that any money paid out, regardless of how it’s paid, is a fee. Every business sets out to make…

Protect yourself from financial phishing

Welcome to the predatory online scamming world. Fraudulent emails, often containing links or attachments, are dangerous. If it seems too good to be true, it is

Protect yourself from financial phishingBeware the phishing hook. Phishing describes an attempt to get you to unknowingly disclose personal information such as credit card details, banking information, usernames and passwords. The party trying to gather your information will try to hook you by sending you an email and asking you to click on a link. The email will look…

Managing your investments over the short and long terms

Investors often purchase investments that don’t suit their intended time frame. Do your homework, know your risk tolerance and be clear on your expectations

Managing your investments over the short and long termsWhen it comes to comparing your investment returns to others, make sure you’re comparing the exact period and investment transactions. Published returns for any investment are based on a single investment over a given period. This isn't the way most people invest, so their returns are often much different than the published numbers. The timing…

Maximizing the tax free in your TFSA

To get the most out of your TFSA, it should likely not be used as a short-term savings account. It should be an integral part of your long-term financial plan

Maximizing the tax free in your TFSAMost people have heard of tax free savings accounts (TFSA) but many don’t use them to full advantage. A big reason is that many people incorrectly assume that a TFSA has to be invested as a saving account, similar to a bank account. In fact, a TFSA can hold almost any type of investment. Yet…

Debt doesn’t always have to be a four-letter word

Using debt in your financial planning is a good strategy, but exercise caution and discuss all the risks and rewards with your accountant and planner first

Debt doesn’t always have to be a four-letter wordDebt is often a four-letter word – but, when used correctly, it can be a real benefit to your financial planning. Most of us use debt when we buy a home, a second property, automobiles and other large purchases. We simply don’t have enough cash available to do otherwise. Many people are very comfortable using…

Understanding and comparing investment returns

Keep in mind that, despite new disclosure rules to increase transparency, the fee shown on your investment report may not be the total fee you paid your adviser

When comparing your investment returns to that of others or those you see published, selection and timing are two critical issues. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples: that you’re weighing similar investments. Each investor has their own risk tolerance and objectives. What’s right for your friend, neighbour or family member may not be right for…

Do you have a financial plan or an investment plan?

A financial plan is a six-step financial planning process that starts with having an initial meeting with your prospective planner

Do you have a financial plan or an investment plan?Many people don’t understand the difference between a financial plan and an investment plan, and often assume that they’re one and the same. They’re not. An investment plan is focused solely on your investments and the return on those investments, which is important. But that’s only part of the story. What happens to your investment plan…

Protect yourself from the unexpected realities of life

Seek professional help if your financial plan doesn't protect you from the four Ds: death, divorce, disability and disaster

Protect yourself from the unexpected realities of lifeYour financial plan should provide you with as much protection as possible from the four Ds: death, divorce, disability and disaster. While you can’t totally protect yourself from any of these events, you should at least have a good plan in place in case something does happen. Death is the only D that can’t be avoided,…

Paying a high price for success, even after you die

There’s no hiding from the success tax, but several things can help legally reduce or even eliminate the amount your estate or your heirs pay

Paying a high price for success, even after you dieThere’s no official estate tax in Canada but we do have what I call the success tax. It's what we pay if we’ve been financially successful in a lifetime of investing and asset accumulation. The more successful you’ve been, the greater the tax could be. If you have assets that will be taxable when sold or when deemed to have been…

If you won’t do it for the planet, do it for the money

Since the threat of climate change isn't working, maybe the high cost of driving will persuade more Canadians to change their ways

If you won’t do it for the planet, do it for the moneyA few days ago, I took a call from a polling company hired by my city to gauge public awareness of ecological issues and city council's new master plan on the environment. I'm happy to oblige these kinds of requests; it's like having an extra vote that non-responders don't get. And it got me thinking about why…