Tag Archives: Marie Engen

Jul 11: Best from the Blogosphere

11 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

The world was shocked to learn that the UK voted to exit the European Community. Nobody really knows what will mean for investors yet but Robin Levinson King at the Toronto Star suggests four ways Brexit could affect Canadans. They are fewer exports, lower returns, a stronger U.S. dollar and a continuing white hot real estate market if interest rates stay low in this country.

Do you have a special skill set or do you own something that someone else wants? Trade it for something you need writes Marie Engen on Boomer and Echo. Bartering for goods and services instead of paying cash is a concept that is alive and well today. It can also save you a bundle.

For many people, paying off debt is one of life’s biggest challenges. Jessica Moorhouse blogs about four women who will inspire you to crush your debt. For example, Amanda D. from Ottawa paid off $64,000 in seven years. She consolidated all her debt with one bank, negotiated a lower interest rate and accelerated her pay down by doubling monthly payments and making periodic bulk payments.

How to purchase life insurance and what kind you need is a potential minefield for many people. On Money after Graduation, Bridget Eastgaard says buy term life insurance and avoid cash-value life insurance at any cost. That’s because cash value life insurance is much more expensive. Also, even one missed payment can void the policy which means you will lose both your insurance coverage and your premiums paid to date.

And since some of you still may not have planned a vacation for the summer or the balance of this year, take a look at Barry Choi’s blog The cost of travel: How to pick a vacation destination. He says daydream a little bit and pick your destination but be realistic if you can’t afford it or it really doesn’t make sense to go to Thailand in typhoon season. The easiest and most cost effective destinations may be locations where you have friends or family.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Jun 20: Best from the Blogosphere

20 Jun

By Sheryl Smolkin

After several weeks of “theme” issues it’s time to check in with some of our favourite bloggers to find out what’s on their mind.

On Boomer and Echo, Marie Engen asks the perennial question RRIF Or Annuity? Which One Is Right For You?  She suggests combining both so an annuity covers your basic retirement expenses together with with your CPP, OAS, and any other pension income you may be receiving to give you a guaranteed income stream for life. This allows your RRIF to provide you with investment growth opportunities and easier access to your money for your more enjoyable lifestyle expenses.

Tax Freedom Day 2016 happened June 7th this year. Retire Happy’s Jim Yih says it’s another reason to celebrate summer. He explains where all of your taxes go because once you realize the severity of tax on your lifestyle, it is your job to investigate legitimate ways to reduce your tax bill. “I’ve often said that good tax planning is the foundation to any financial, investment or estate decision,” Yih concludes.

Bridget Eastgaard lives in Calgary where due to the drop in oil prices the rental market is very soft. On her blog Money After Graduation she shares One Simple Shortcut To Put More Money In Your Budget. Her research revealed a similar unit renting for $250 less in her building plus a half-dozen comparable apartments renting nearby for less. She succeeded in lowering her rent by 20%, saving hundreds of dollar a month that will be redirected to accumulating a down payment on a house.

Sean Cooper thinks Millennials Should Save Their Down Payment and Not Rely on the Bank of Mom and Dad. He says by showing your millennial child tough love, you’re teaching your kids a valuable lesson: not everything in life will be handed to them on a silver platter. Just like you did, he says they should to work for it.You won’t be there to help them forever.

And the Big Cajun Man Alan Whitten reminds readers to keep an eye on their bank account to make sure automatic withdrawals are being processed properly on an ongoing basis. When he checked on his son’s RESP recently, he found that TD Bank mysteriously stopped depositing in November of 2015. There has been a problem ticket opened on this issue, and someone will be getting back to him.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

 

Aug 24: Best from the blogosphere

24 Aug

By Sheryl Smolkin

After several weeks of “theme” issues of Best from the Blogosphere, for the next several weeks we will get back to basics and check out what our perennial favourites have been writing about lately.

On Boomer & Echo, Marie Engen discusses 3 financial mistakes to avoid. They are buying too much home; raiding your RRSP; and, putting your child’s needs ahead of your retirement.

Retire Happy’s Sarah Milton describes Using the Lifelong Learning Plan. The LLP is a program that allows Canadian residents to borrow up to $20,000 from their RRSPs in order to cover the costs of a full-time further education program for themselves, their common-law partner or spouse. If the Harper government is re-elected, they have promised to raise this amount to $35,000.

The Frugal Trader gives a Financial Freedom Update on Million Dollar Journey. He says in the year since he has reached the million dollar net worth milestone it feels great but nothing has really changed. His family has recently decided to become a single income family and with tight fiscal management they are able to live on one government salary. 

Blonde on a Budget Cait Flanders moved from Vancouver to Victoria recently and she has established a final de-cluttering challenge for herself. Last year she purged 43% of her belongings in one month to embrace a minimalist lifestyle. She has given herself 20 days to see how much more stuff she can get rid of when she unpacks her moving boxes.

Finally, Michael James on money says Your Retirement Spending Plan is Critical. While working, if you don’t like the plan your financial advisor has set up for you, you can find a new advisor and make up for past mistakes. But if your advisor puts you on a bad retirement spending plan, by the time you figure out there is a problem, there’s little you can do. other than cut spending.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

May 25: Best from the blogosphere

25 May

By Sheryl Smolkin

Due to the holiday Monday (yeah!) and other days away from my desk for random reasons, this issue of Best from the Blogosphere is being written super early. So, on no particular theme we present some great content from the last several weeks.

The Apple watch has received a bad tap from many reviewers, but Retired Syd reports on Retirement: A Full-Time Job that the device works for her. She likes being able to do all sorts of things without digging in her purse for her iPhone like paying for coffee; listening to music; getting directions from Siri; dictating error-free texts; and just lifting her arm to display her boarding pass.

In a guest post on the Financial Independence Hub, Michael Drak writes about one thing he wishes his father had taught him. While he learned about the need for working hard, saving and eliminating debt as quickly as possible, his Dad didn’t teach him about the important concept of Findependence (financial independence) and how it could positively impact his life once it was achieved.

Freedom Thirty-Five is authored by a nameless late-twenties male living in Metro Vancouver. He recently wrote about succumbing to lifestyle inflation. It seems he’s ahead of schedule by one year to reach financial freedom by his 35th birthday. So he has decided to succumb to lifestyle inflation and increase his food expenses from $100 to $150/month; eating out from $25 to $50/month and phone and entertainment from $75 to $100/month. Could you get by on these modest amounts?

Boomer & Echo blogger Marie Engen says unless there is room for occasionally splurging in your budget, becoming too frugal can ultimately undermine your budgeting efforts. Don’t banish nice things from your life. Occasional guilt-free splurges can help you stay on budget if they don’t detract from your other goals. When you don’t feel deprived you will likely find it a lot easier to stick to the plan.

And finally, on Brighter Life, I wrote a piece about Five smart ways to use your tax refund. You can start an emergency fund; top up your RRSP; pay down credit card debt; pay down your mortgage; or, open a Registered Educational Savings Plan for your child.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Aug 18: Best from the blogosphere

18 Aug

By Sheryl Smolkin

185936832 blog

In this week’s Best from the blogosphere we revisit some of our old favourites who have appeared repeatedly in this space.

First of all, congratulations to Robb and Marie Engen who are pioneers in the world of personal finance blogging. This week they are Celebrating Four Years Of Boomer & Echo. Their articles have been featured in the Globe and Mail, MoneySense, the National Post, and MSN Money.  They’ve been interviewed and quoted in numerous online and print magazines, and recognized as one of the best personal finance blogs in Canada.  Robb also writes a bi-weekly column in the Toronto Star.

On retirehappy, Jim Yih crunches the numbers to find out if it makes good financial sense to Rent or own vacation property in Vernon, B.C. He concludes that the amount of $16,000/year it would cost to carry the property probably cannot be recouped by renting the unit for part of the year. He also decides that renting makes more sense because the property may not increase significantly in value over time.

Tim Stobbs keeps us up-to-date on his retirement journey on Canadian Dream: Free at 45. Therefore I was initially surprised when I saw I Hate Hard Work is the title of one of his recent blogs. But it makes more sense when he clarifies that he would rather work smart than work hard. That means even at the office he tends to focus most of his efforts on high impact items, so although he doesn’t work hard Tim says he is more effective than the majority of his co-workers.

“I just refuse to spend lots of time working on something when in fact if I focus on the core items I can get 80% of the work done with a mere 20% of my effort,” he says.

The Big Cajun Man, Allen Whitton reminds us that Lifestyle Creep is like “Feature Creep,” a term used in high tech development teams, where someone keeps trying to shove more and more into a release of software or hardware, thus slowing things down, and eventually making the whole thing unusable. In other words, if every time you get a raise or pay off a debt you use the money to buy a bigger house, a newer car or more consumer goods, your financial picture will never really improve.

And on Brighter Life, Kevin Press asks the perennial question, Why is financial literacy such a stubborn problem? He shares the following thoughts:

First, he thinks it’s a mistake to argue that personal finance is uniquely difficult to teach and learn. It is a complex and technical subject certainly, but so are dozens of others. We could just as easily be sweating about why so few Canadians understand how to take care of their cars.

Second, the complexity of the subject is not the issue. The problem is the way we are trying to teach it. Adult learning theory explains a number of things about how adults prefer to be taught new information.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

July 28: Best from the blogosphere

28 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

185936832 blog

This week we highlight a series of posts of particular interest to readers who are retired and those who are contemplating retirement.

The big question everyone has when planning their retirement is “how much can I spend so I won’t run out of money.” Mark at MyOwnAdvisor considers various approaches like the rule of 20 and the rule 0f 25. But he concludes there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to determining your retirement number other than taking the first step and figuring out what you’ll likely spend in retirement.

In a short video, Globe and Mail personal finance columnist Rob Carrick interviews Bruce Sellery, author of The Moolala Guide to Rockin’ Your RRSP. Bruce says if you save 10% a year you will probably have enough to retire. To calculated how much you must save, multiply the annual amount you need by 20. So savings of $1 million will be required to pay yourself $50,000/year.

On Boomer & Echo, Marie Engen writes about how downsizing might not be the way to finance your retirement. Moving to a smaller, cheaper place can free up home equity for living expenses and reduce annual housing costs.  But moving is expensive and often a new place can cost more than the one you sold.

Escaping work may be the dream you are working towards, but if you get bored or your investments take a dive you may want to find full or part-time work. Tom Drake on CanadianFinance blog gives five hints for retirees looking for a job. He advises you not to say you are retired as it will give the impression that your best working days are behind you.

If when to start payment of your CPP pension isn’t confusing enough, the answer is further complicated if you are currently receiving a CPP survivors pension. Jim Yih on RetireHappy presents  an interesting case study on combined CPP benefits where compared to the other two choices age 65 is never the best time to start collecting CPP.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Apr 28: Best from the blogosphere

28 Apr

By Sheryl Smolkin

185936832 blog

This week the country mourned the untimely death of Jim Flaherty, the former federal finance minister. In Goodbye Jim, Canadian Dream Free at 45 blogger Tim Stobbs says the most important lesson he learned from Flaherty is “life is short, so don’t spend all your time working. 

With the deadline for filing 2013 income tax returns extended to May 5th because of temporary system shutdowns due to the Heartbleed software bug, procrastinators have several more days this week to delay the inevitable.

However, there are some cases where it may be a good idea to defer taking tax deductions you are entitled to this year to a later year. In the blog Taxes: When it Pays to Procrastinate or Defer on Young and Thrifty we learn that you will get more “bang for your buck” on your RRSP deduction if you contribute this year but do not take the deduction until a later year when you are in a highrt income bracket. The same goes for your educational tax credits.

Financial Procrastination can also result in making bad financial decisions, says Dave on Canadian Dream Free at 45. For example, he recently accepted the first house and car insurance package offered to him, instead of making the time to shop around (a serious personal finance no-no).

For many people, the reason to scrimp and save during their working life is to leave a legacy for their children. But on Boomer & Echo, Marie Engen says if you have sufficient money to Leave A Legacy Before The Will Is Read, consider giving your children a financial boost when you are still alive to see them enjoy it. Helping with a down payment on a house, funding RESPs for your grandchildren and family vacations can be very gratifying.

Finally, Squawkfox questions Repair or replace: When does it make sense to mend the threads you’ve got? She says it depends whether the item is busted or just worn out. It costs $50 to repair the heel and sole her eight year old blue Fluevog boots instead of $350 to replace them so she opts for the repair. But she regretfully acknowledges that even good quality items won’t last forever.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere. Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Mar 10: Best from the blogosphere

10 Mar

By Sheryl Smolkin

185936832 blog

This week we have a number of interesting blogs on a variety of topics relating to how you save and spend your money.

On Boomer & Echo Marie Engen asks How Safe Are Your Bank Deposits? Canada is widely considered to have one of the safest banking systems in the world.  But several large financial institutions have failed in the past, so it is  important to understand Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation limits for banks ($100,000/account) and provincial plans covering Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires.

Jim Yih discusses a hypothetical financial counselling session with Jack and Jill and how they decide to save their extra cash flow of $500/month. They choose to contribute $200 extra to their RRSPs for the long term as long as their incomes were higher than the 32% marginal tax rate.

Their tax saving will be used to pay down the mortgage unless they believe he markets will produce future returns of 7% or more. They will also allocate the remaining $300 per month to their TFSAs. This will give them flexibility to use savings in this account to pay a lump sum on their mortgage, top up their RRSPs or open RESPs in the future.

On Canadian Dream: Free at 45, Dave shares how he and his wife are living a (relatively) stress-free life. They live on one salary so if either of them loses his/her job they can still manage financially. The fact that they don’t have children or other dependants helps to make this a practical alternative.

If you have just opened a trading account with a new discount broker or you have accounts in different places and want to consolidate, you’ll need to transfer your holdings between brokers. The Canadian Capitalist has put together a detailed checklist on what you have to do to make this process as painless as possible.

And on Sustainable Personal Finance, Miranda questions whether there are times you should put your ideals ahead of your pocketbook. That could mean giving just a little bit extra to causes that are near and dear to your heart, or making a commitment to socially-responsible investing.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere. Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Jan 20: Best from the blogosphere

20 Jan

By Sheryl Smolkin

185936832 blog

“Best from the blogosphere” took three weeks off, but all of our favourite bloggers kept right on writing, so there is lots of great content for our first issue of 2014.

Many of you may have made financial New Year’s resolutions like paying off debt, spending less and saving more. On retirehappy.ca, Jim Yih says you will achieve your goals if you keep it simple, take responsibility and stay disciplined.

Krystal Yee’s top financial goal is to retire as early as possible. Therefore, on givemebackmyfivebucks.com she explains that she decided to divert $110 bi-weekly from excess mortgage payments to RRSP savings to ensure she saves at least $750/year for retirement. Then she will use her annual tax refund to pay down her mortgage.

Marie Engen at Boomer & Echo says you can save money by making major purchases at the right time of year. If you plan ahead you can realize substantial savings. For example, her Calendar of Saving Money suggests that January white sales are a good time to stock up on linens.

If you are looking for new ways to boost your earnings, a guest blogger on the Canadian finance blog offers 4 ways to generate income in your personal life. So if you have decided to finally clean out overflowing closets and drawers, you may be able to sell everything from good as new clothing to DVDs online.

And finally, if you are one of those lucky people who belong to a defined benefit pension plan, Sean Cooper’s blog on milliondollarjourney.com explains the financial implications of retiring early, depending on whether your pension will be reduced or you are eligible for an unreduced retirement.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere. Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.