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…

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…

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…

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

Understanding and comparing investment returnsWhen 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 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…

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…

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…

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…

Protect your business 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 your business 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,…

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

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…

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…