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Calling All Millennial Women: Your Finances Need You

May 17, 2019

In our last blog we discussed the results from the USB survey indicating the deferral of financial planning by women to their partners. If you recall, the highest demographic for this was millennial women. Millennials are famous for being an easy target for mockery but perhaps it’s time for the prior generations to help them pull up their bootstraps when it comes to financial planning. Millennials are the fastest growing group in the workforce and are dealing with the challenges of graduating during a recession and the continued wage gap. Combine these factors with the likelihood of taking time away to have children and a longer lifespan, it’s more important than ever to master finances and long-term planning. Another layer of complexity is that most millennials are raised by parents who live with high debt-ratios. Baby-boomers were raised with a fear of owing money and made a concentrated effort to avoid it and to pay it back as quickly as possible. The next generations were handed credit like candy and indulged. Learning by example may not be the best course of action, so we’ve compiled some advice for the up-and-coming.

  1. Spend Carefully. Along the same lines as “think before you speak”, think before you buy. Evaluate what long-term benefit that item is going to bring to you. When it comes to the nickel and dime type expenses such as your daily dose of fancy coffee, invest in a fancy espresso machine at home.
  2. Build an Escape Plan. Life often throws challenges our way and true power comes from being able to choose your own path. Having some cash squirrelled away allows you to make the choices which are right for you and prevent you from returning back to what was keeping you in debt.
    1. Set up an automatic deposit from your paycheck to an account which you are not able to easily access. That way you never had the money, so you can’t miss it.
    2. Funnel your wins. Instead of “treating” yourself with your birthday gifts, tax return or bonus, treat your future self by putting it into your savings account.
    3. Manage Your Debt. You’ve grown up in an era of credit and debts from student loans to car loans to credit cards. Make a list of all you owe and the corresponding interest rates. This will enable you to prioritize which debts you want to pay off the quickest. High-interest debts should be the first target to stop the cycle of handing your money to an institution.
    4. Save for Your Future. It’s hard to look that far forward when you’re in your 20’s, but imagine the freedom of being able to live your life your way when you’re older. With a few sacrifices, you can save now and play later.

The millennial generation espouses the importance of equality, empowerment and independence. As a millennial, it is your responsibility to implement changes in your life which align with your values. If you want to be in control of your destiny, you need to control your money. Money brings freedom and freedom brings independence. If you’d like some help taking your first steps towards your financial future, we’d love to meet with you.]]>

Empowerment and Equality and Your Finances

March 27, 2019

The slogan “girl power” has been used for decades to encourage and celebrate female empowerment, independence, and confidence. The term used most often relates to sports and employment; however, new studies are showing that women need to exert their girl power when it comes to finances and financial planning. A recent study released by UBS shows that 58% of women worldwide defer long-term financial decisions to their spouses. This study included nearly 3,700 high-net-worth married women, widows and divorcees in nine countries. The results of the study showed that 85% of women were responsible for the day-to-day finances; just not the long-term. What is really interesting is the generational span of this survey and, most notably, the generation most likely to allow someone else to control their decisions: millennials! Millennials are a generation well known for promoting equality and empowerment. Unfortunately, the survey results indicate the helicopter-style parenting millennials were raised with, where someone else is always ensuring their well-being, has bled into the financial realm. Fifty-nine percent of millennial women aged 20 – 34 are more likely to allow their spouse to take the lead compared to 55% of women over 50. The general excuse from the younger women is they have “more urgent responsibilities than investing and financial planning”. Even more contradictory to the equality movement is they “believe their spouses know more about long-term finances than they do”. The challenge this arrangement poses is the lack of preparation and understanding should a life event such as death or divorce occur. The report noted that 74% of the widowed and divorced women it surveyed reported “discovering negative financial surprises after a divorce or death of their spouse.” Hindsight resulted in 74% of these respondents wishing they had been more involved in long-term financial decisions while they were married, rather than trying to navigate them while coping with such significant life changes.” The ideal solution is for both partners in a relationship to be aware of both the short- and long-term aspects of their finances. Whether you are married, engaged, common-law or committed, financial planning is another part of creating a responsible long-lasting arrangement between two parties. In this age, knowledge really is power. So be powerful, take control of your money. Like the saying goes, the first step is recognizing the problem. Take the next step in addressing the problem and book an appointment for yourself and your partner with one of our Financial Planners and begin your journey.

Your Heart Can Affect Your Income

February 15, 2019

An article recently published by Sheryl Ubelacker, The Canadian Press, provides insight into the result of a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on the effects of heart and stroke episodes and its impact on income. Some of the statistics are quite staggering. The study shows one-third of heart attacks, a quarter of strokes and 40 per cent of cardiac arrests occur in working people under 65. These medical issues are occurring during prime income earning years and are leaving some with physical or cognitive disabilities. In comparing two years of earnings prior to the health event and three years afterwards with their unaffected equals, it became evident those who were affected by cardiovascular events were less likely to be working and therefore less likely earning. The reductions ranged from 8 to 31 percent in lost earnings. Those who suffered a stroke, suffered the most significant loss of income at 31 percent, representing a third of their income. As strokes affect brain cells, the likelihood of physical limitations is increased compared to a heart related event. While labourers immediately come to mind as those most likely unable to continue in their role, the limitation of using your hand and arm can prevent one from being able to operate a computer. In conjunction with the person’s own inability to continue earning, members of their family may also be affected. If the family consists of younger children, the spouse who is now the main bread-winner may be required to spend more time with the family and less at work thereby further affecting their income. Should it be a parent whom is affected, the adult children may be required to take time away from work to attend to their medical care or appointments. The positive outcome to this study is the attention it will bring to those who require additional resources to manage the after-effects of the medical event, which is long overdue. With government bodies, change takes time – which you and your loved ones may not have. However, there are options for helping yourself. Critical Illness Insurance pays a lump sum benefit if you are diagnosed with a dreaded disease such as Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Cancer or Parkinson’s Disease. Other conditions covered may include coma, stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure. Benefits are paid for the first occurrence and may be used to pay medical expenses, modify your home or even take a vacation. In May, we shared a real-life story of the benefits of this insurance in the blog Money Can’t Buy You Love. By purchasing Critical Illness Insurance, this family was able to spend the last bit of time they had with their loved one without affecting their financial situation. When a situation such as this arises, that is all we can ever ask for. Planning for tomorrow is a key aspect to financial planning, so is planning for the unknown and unexpected. Medical circumstances are never convenient and rarely scheduled. If you’d like to prepare yourself, we’d like to help.

I Can Make Money by Saving Money?

January 30, 2019

It seems like a polar opposite philosophy: “Spend Money to Make Money”, but it’s true. Gone are the days of 8 – 10% deposit interest. Now you’re lucky if you make pennies on a thousand dollars, especially with the penny now obsolete. If you have cash in the bank, there are options for investing beyond RRSPs and GICs. In 2009, the TFSA or Tax-Free Savings Account was introduced. The initial contribution limit was $5000 per annum, growing to $5,500 for a number of years. The inflationary increase in 2018 was high enough to push the maximum annual contribution to $6000. An added feature of the TFSA is that the annual contribution room accumulates so $63,500 can now be contributed overall. There are a number of reasons why a TFSA may be the right choice for you. The first is the fact they truly are tax-free. Any income or gains from the accumulated funds are tax-free for life. Funds can also be withdrawn without penalty or taxes at any time. Because of this status, TFSA withdrawals do not negatively affect any other benefits available to you such as Old Age Security (OAS). If the account is set up correctly, in the tragic event of a loss of the primary account holder, the successor annuitant would receive the full value of the TFSA without going through the estate. Age is not a factor. Other options such as RRSPs require the contributor to be under a certain age and be earning income. Anyone over the age of 18 can contribute to a TFSA. They are a popular choice for those in their Golden Years because they allow for continued tax-sheltering of money even after age 71. There are no forced withdrawals or tax consequences when amounts are withdrawn. The flexibility offered with the TFSA allows for withdrawals to be recontributed in the following year without reducing the contribution amount. Meaning, if you withdrew $1000 in 2018 you are able to contribute the $6000 for 2019 and top it up with the $1000 withdrawn the prior year. If you are an investor with money, maximizing your RRSP and TFSA would make the most sense. For those who don’t have a lot of money to spare but want to save for an event in their life such as a home or car, a TFSA offers a great way to protect, invest and grow your funds. There are many options available when it comes to savings and long-term planning and the information available may become overwhelming. This is why working with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and having the RIGHT plan in place can make all the difference.]]>

RRSP Advice

The Time to Invest in Your Future is Now. Not Next Year.

January 14, 2019

As 2018 becomes a shadow of the past and 2019 shines its opportunity upon us, it brings us closer to “that time of year”. Tax time. If you’ve ever seen The Lion King, saying tax time is like whispering Mufasa and watching the Hyena’s shiver. Now is the time where talk turns to deductions and retirement investments before the February cut-off for contributions. Now the shadow of 2018 is rearing its ugly head as it’s there to remind you that you had all year. You’re not alone. Millions of Canadians wait until Spring to start thinking about their RRSPs, and with a heavy heart they sigh and think “I’ll do better next year”. However, next year is already this year and it’s unlikely any signification changes have been made. Life has gotten back to normal after the holidays and lives have become a whirlwind of school, work, sports, family and just trying to manage life. Soon it will be summer and Manitoba will do it’s typical slow down where cottages become priority. Then school starts again and before you know it, it’s already the holiday season again. After which, you’ll sigh and say “I’ll do better next year”. The good news is, you can do something about it now. Instead of scrambling to put together a good contribution, perhaps this year (yes, this year) is the year to take an easier approach. RRSP loans strategies such as gross up, are a great way to boost your RRSP savings while minimizing interest rates Interest rates are quite low right now, and the gross up strategy is a great way to take advantage of that. Consider this scenario. You have $5000 to contribute to an RRSP, you’re sitting in the 40$ marginal tax rate and your RRSP limit allows for more than $5000. If you borrowed $4000, that would give you $9000 to invest in your RRSP. Based on the aforementioned scenario, you can anticipate receiving approximately $3600 in a tax refund which you can use to pay down the loan. This part takes self-control to apply those funds to the loan instead of self-indulgence. Remember, you’re indulging in the long-term plan using this approach. Depending on your stage of life, current income and debt ratio, there are numerous ways to invest in your future goals. Between RRSPs, high-interest saving accounts, TFSAs and GICs, it can be overwhelming to determine which route to take. A Financial Planner can help guide you on these options and what fits best for you.

Do you need a professional in your corner?

December 20, 2018

Let me tell you a story.  This story is about a client, who was experiencing an exciting life event.  He had been with the same employer for over 10 years when he decided to pursue a new opportunity.  He handed in his notice and received a stack of termination papers with what he thought was all he needed.  Having had a close relationship over the years, this client knew that I am a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), so he asked me to take a look to make sure everything was in order.  To my surprise, I noticed that there was no information regarding his pension.  I double checked with him whether the company offered a pension and he confirmed that the company pension was a matching plan where the employer contributes and the employee matches.  Astonishingly, there was no record of any pension being deducted from his pay cheques, despite him being eligible after two years of employment. Turns out, the employer had simply over looked (or neglected??) to deduct his pension contribution.  On his behalf, I checked with the Human Resources office of his former employer, who confirmed that he was indeed eligible for a pension pay out – so where was it?

I negotiated with the company to ensure that he received the retirement funds to which he was entitled.  This was no insignificant amount!  Had my client not had the foresight to have me review his termination package, it is unlikely this error would have been uncovered. He was mighty happy to have me in his corner!
Are you experiencing a life event, or do you know someone who is getting married, having a child, divorced, retiring, starting a new job or going back to school??  It can never hurt to discuss life changing events with a Financial Planner.  Likely, all will be fine; however, having a professional in YOUR corner could ensure that nothing gets left behind.

The Gift is in the Giving. Responsibly.

December 13, 2018

The sleigh bells are ringing, chestnuts are roasting and Rudolph is working out to prepare for a long night of making children’s dreams come true. The holidays are a time for goodwill, good memories and family fun. If you’re dealing with debt or trying to stick to a financial plan, Christmas can become a time of financial burden more than a time to be merry. Everyone wants to feel the euphoria of watching someone open that perfectly selected gift, but sometimes you have to find that joy in the intangibles. “The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” Burton Hills. In today’s era of self-indulgence, gift-giving can become not only a challenge as if it falls in your budget, you’ve probably already bought it. It’s the thoughtful gifts that tend to stand out and be remembered. If you’re crafty, why not make a Christmas ornament or decoration for the people you need to buy for. Memorialize a shared memory (family-appropriate of course) either inside the ornament or scripted on it. This will give those you love pause every year when they’re decorating their tree, bringing a smile to their face as they recall that moment. Perhaps it’s looking at those around you and recognizing where they need help. Create a gift certificate for free babysitting for your siblings or better yet, give that gift to the young ones in your life. This not only makes them feel very important, it also gives them a free pass to escape their reality when they choose to do so. For your aging parents, you can make them laugh by doing the chores they always wanted you to get done. Show up every week and shovel their walk, or mow their lawn in the summer. Better yet, take a moment to just sit and listen to their stories. They have a lifetime of knowledge accumulated and very rarely get the chance to share it.  “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.” Charles M. Schulz. A client recently told me how her mother wrote out her Christmas Wish List and gave it to all her kids. That wish list told them how proud she was of them and outlined her wishes to only see her children happy. It reminded them to smile and take a moment to remember who loves them. She included the gift of time. It was time to be spent with family at a chosen outing doing something together. The client said it was the gift of a lifetime. With some friends and family, gifts are still a central focus of the holidays. Reach out to those in your circle and see if anyone else would be willing to change to a secret Santa or a one-person gift list. By streamlining the recipient list, you can expand your budget a little and really spend time thinking about what to get them. It may be too late this year, but it’s something to think about for next year. It is a season of giving and you can be creative in what you give. A hug, a phone call, a smile are gifts in the eye of the beholder. It’s time to remember the true spirit of Christmas.

Financial Planning Winnipeg

November is Financial Literacy Month

November 27, 2018

Life Insurance is not the one trick pony of the past, there are now many choices in how you structure it. From Term Life which allows you to choose the coverage period, to Whole Life which provides a lifetime of protection to Critical Illness. Unfortunately, our health is sometimes seriously affected and Critical Illness provides coverage to protect our families from the financial burden of our illness. If you are at a point where you don’t want to think about end of life, think about beginnings. It’s time to start your own chapter in the form of home ownership. You’ve done your research, found your new haven and negotiated your mortgage. Before you sign the papers, understand how to protect your investment. Should you decide to add children to your equation, you hope they will move on to post-secondary education. Planning early can provide the financial education they need before they incur the debt which could come with it. Each stage of life brings an opportunity to review your current financial standing and adjust for the future. It can be hard to know all your options and sometimes even harder to see the forest for the trees when reviewing your own assets. If you’d like some help, we’re here.    ]]>

Planning for Perception or Preference?

November 06, 2018

Unfortunately, we are not bears and are not afforded the luxury of shutting ourselves down for a few months. At a time where all you want to do is snuggle under a blanket on the couch and binge watch all the shows you missed while doing yardwork, the demands of family, friends and work dramatically increase. Tis the season of holiday shopping, parties and entertaining. Tis the season to exert extreme drain on our energy, wardrobe and pocketbook. Tis the season to spend. Before you start making your list and checking it twice, it may be time to ask yourself why. Here’s a few scenarios:

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The Convenience of Online Shopping and It’s Budgetary Impact

October 12, 2018

There is nothing better than sitting in your pajamas, sipping on a cup of tea while shopping for your latest must have. You don’t have to worry about driving there, looking for parking, dealing with sales associates, long lines or the disappointment of finding that big win only to realize it’s not in your size. Online it’s as easy as click, click, buy. The convenience of online shopping combined with the slew of discount opportunities makes it a powerful draw. Sometimes too powerful of a draw. All of the conveniences listed above are triggers for those with compulsive or impulsive buying habits. Online retailers make it even harder to resist with events such as Amazon Prime Day and other enticing reduced-price sales. How many times when you’re bored have you found yourself randomly browsing shopping sites? Looking at something and thinking what a great deal that is and adding to your cart? But you’re just adding it to your cart, right? Not buying it. Then you find that next item that you’ve always thought about getting but you really don’t need it. Wait, it’s on sale! Well, since you already found Item 1 at such a great price, you might as well buy Item 2, that way you’ll get free shipping. What a deal! Somehow, without even thinking about it you’ve spent $200 of hard-earned money on items you didn’t even plan for and most likely didn’t budget for. But you saved so much money compared to if you bought it in the stores! The question you must now ask yourself – would you have driven to a store to buy it? If the answer is no, you probably didn’t need it. That was a want, pure and simple. Remember, buying something you don’t need isn’t saving money. Next time you’re thinking about browsing online retailers, ask yourself the following questions:

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How do you get paid?

September 13, 2018

You’ve seen those commercials on TV with clients questioning their advisors about how they are paid or requesting a “second opinion” on your investments.  But the old cliché You get what you pay for is fitting.
With YourStyle Financial, the initial consultation is free.  YourStyle Financial is more than an investment firm.  We incorporate all aspects of the planning process:  insurance, tax and estate planning, retirement projections and of course, investment advice.  A lot of elements are involved in developing a Personal Financial Action Plan: it can take an average of 5-6 hours.  There is no obligation to move forward or use any of the recommendations provided for your review; however, should you like what you see and decide to proceed, then, like most things in life:  There is no free ride.
Compensation is paid one of two ways:  Fee for Service or Commissions.  Fee for service is based on an hourly rate.  A typical Financial Plan will run from $1,500 – $3,000 depending on complexity. Commissions are based on investment deposits or insurance premiums. They are built into the management fees and typically range from 1% – 5% in the first year and .5% – 1% thereafter.  Any commissions generated will offset fees for service eliminating any duplication.
Managing your wealth can be complex and time consuming. Our role is to simplify the process by addressing all aspects of your financial well being.
When you make the decision to explore your options, we’d love the opportunity to speak with you.

Visit Us at the Home & Consumer Show

August 30, 2018

We are going to be an exhibitor at the Winnipeg Home & Consumer Show at the Winnipeg Winter Club hosted by BNI Accelerators. Attendance for this event is totally free!

This event has some great exhibitors for you, your home or your business. If you’re thinking of making any changes to yourself or your home, you will have first-hand access to the most recent and upcoming trends. If you weren’t thinking of it, you might be after wandering through the exhibitor showcase and listening to industry experts. Perhaps you just have some questions, here is where you can get answers from those who are in the know.
Find out more about the show:
https://bniaccelerators.ca/about/

Show Details:
Wednesday, Sept. 12th, 4:30pm to 7:30pm
Winnipeg Winter Club, 200 River Avenue
Hors d’oeuvres & Refreshments served
By attending you can also support a local animal Rescue Centre, D’Arcy’s A.R.C.  Pet Food and donations are greatly appreciated and all proceeds will go to this haven for adoptable fur-babies.
Looking forward to seeing you there!

Make it About Memories, Not Money

July 05, 2018
  1. Grand Beach. This huge stretch of soft sand beach and sand dunes is only a one-hour drive from Winnipeg. This beautiful beach has been listed world-wide as an experience to be had and so many locals have yet to make the trip. It’s a great getaway for a day and offers camping, motels and cottage rentals for longer stays.
  2. Birds Hill Park. Located a very short drive from the city, this vastly under-utilized year round provincial park offers a slew of activity choices. Paved and natural trails allow for biking, rollerblading and hiking. There are horse stables and quite often Polo games are available for viewing. There is a campground with choices of basic, electrical or full service camping and a beach with food and beverage options.
  3. Little Limestone Lake. A little longer trip, but the closest to the Caribbean you can get when you don’t live near the ocean. It is the biggest and best marl, colour-changing lake in the world.
  4. Whiteshell Provincial Park. Part of the Canadian Shield landscape about 1.5 hours east of Winnipeg, is a treasure trove of natural resources. This park is filled with wildlife as the wilderness is quite undisturbed. If you’re looking to spend time at the lake, there are beaches, waterfalls, rapids, diving, sailing, swimming and waterskiing as just a few choices.
  5. Assiniboine Zoo. An absolute gem located right within the city and one of the most beautiful urban parks the zoo offers a plethora of experiences for young and old. Right now you have the chance to see the incredibly endangered snow leopards. The two little cubs are just settling into their new enclosure and are still awaiting their names. Included in the regular admission this summer, the new attraction Xtreme BUGS is being offered for a limited time. One of the biggest attractions, literally, is the polar bears whom you can see in action without travelling to the North.

This is such a small sampling of the destinations available in Manitoba. If you love to travel and experience the outdoors, this is a great place to do it without having to hurt your wallet. Now, get out there and experience all there is to do in Manitoba!

Planning for the Unplanned

June 14, 2018

What comes to mind when you hear the term “financial planning”? It’s a kind of fuzzy term that most people associate with retirement or other such occurrences in the future. Thinking and planning for the long term makes sense, but what about now – today, tomorrow, or the day after? Here’s a little scenario to get you thinking about today. You live in a nice home with your spouse and family. You’re both gainfully employed and life is going well. Since you’re feeling comfortable, you upgrade that old junker car to one that’s more appropriate to your current lifestyle. You deserve it! Then you and your spouse look around your house and compare it to your friend’s who just bought a new house in a new development. Hmmm, you wonder, what would your house look like with a new kitchen? So you start the process of meeting with the designer, picking out appliances, cupboards, countertops and lighting. All the stressfully exciting things that come with a home renovation. The work is done, the kitchen looks amazing and you sigh happily. Ahhhhh, life is good. You wake up the next day, stroll into your beautiful new kitchen, sip your coffee and head off to work in your new vehicle feeling content. Another day, another dollar. As you’re logging in for the day, your boss asks to see you in her office. “Be right there” you say. But, when you sit down across from your boss, you realize she’s not smiling and there is a letter flipped over in front of her. You have become a casualty of your firm’s downsizing. Suddenly, life is not so good. This is the moment where financial planning can ensure financial security. There are a number of options available to create a nest egg, not only for retirement but for all of life’s uncertainties. If this situation hits a little too close to home, it might be time to speak with a financial professional to ensure your bottom line is covered —  no matter what life throws at you.

Critical Illness

Money Can’t Buy You Love

May 01, 2018

As the old adage goes, money can’t buy you love, but it can buy you time with the ones you love when you need it most. We all hope to have a long healthy life with plenty of time with family and friends. Sometimes however, life has different plans and a little planning can ease the financial burden at a time when the last thing you should be thinking about is money. Critical Illness Insurance is one option to account for the unforeseen future. A long term client of YourStyle found themselves in this exact situation. While they were diligently working on their retirement plans, one of them was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer only to pass 37 days later. Fortunately during the financial planning sessions, we discussed and included Critical Illness coverage to their suite of group and insurance options. This allowed the family to spend their limited time together as well as have the proper time to grieve the loss of a father and husband without worrying about finances. Critical Illness Insurance pays a lump sum benefit if you are diagnosed with a dreaded disease such as Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Cancer or Parkinson’s Disease.  Other conditions covered may include coma, stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure. Benefits are paid for the first occurrence and may be used to pay medical expenses, modify your home or even take a vacation. There are many versions of Critical Illness Insurance available and different insurance carriers offer different coverage. Be sure not to let premiums be your guide when choosing the right coverage for you and your family. Speaking with a financial planner at YourStyle Financial can help you navigate the tricky waters of ensuring your future needs are met based on your family history and future goals. Due to the aforementioned situation, the children of this couple have now been meeting with YourStyle Financial on a regular basis to develop their own financial plans and to ensure that their inheritance and financial affairs are well looked after. Firsthand experience has shown them a little planning goes a long way.

What You Need to Know When Preparing for Your 2017 Tax Return

March 21, 2018

Caregivers Are you a caregiver of a family member with a physical or mental impairment? If so you may be eligible for the Canada Caregiver Amount tax credit. The government recognizes the extra financial responsibility being a caregiver can have on your finances. This year determining if you qualify for the credit will be much simpler. Education Until recently, only post-secondary level course tuition qualified for a tax credit. If you took other courses at an educational facility, these fees weren’t eligible. With the recent changes, courses such as second language skills and occupational improvement courses such as computer skills may allow you to benefit in more ways than intellectually. While this option was added, the credit for post-secondary textbooks has been eliminated. This did not affect the tuition tax credit nor the ability to carry forward unused education and textbook amounts from years prior.  Parents The Children’s Fitness and Arts Tax Credits were eliminated in 2017. Transportation It appears the tax credit for utilizing public transit was not enough motivation for travellers to change their transport habits. Therefore, the public transit credit was eliminated mid-year 2017. If you used public transportation in 2017, this is your last chance to claim this benefit as amounts purchased for travel between Jan 1 and June 30, 2017 are still eligible. Infertility Treatments Financial help has become reality for those needing medical assistance to conceive. As of 2017, infertility treatments are now included as an eligible medical expense. As an additional benefit, this has been made retroactive. Meaning if you have received fertility treatments within the past ten years, you can request adjustments of past returns. These are just a few of the highlights for the 2017 tax filing, not that taxes are ever a highlight. While it’s great to know how to benefit during the current tax season, maybe it’s time to start planning to benefit next year. Financial Planners are able to look at your current and future finances and create the most beneficial plan for you.

There Are Two Certainties in Life and One is Taxes

February 14, 2018

It’s the time of year where the working world is split into those that look forward to tax refunds and those who dread seeing how much they owe. Yes, that’s right, it’s tax time. The buzz has begun with the distribution of T4s, which companies have until the end of February to deliver. Tax returns are one of those things in life that are necessary, but are never really reviewed. It’s a wonder there isn’t a life skills course offered in high school which covers real life lessons such as budgeting, tax requirements and filing, resume writing, interview skills and grocery shopping. Now is the time to gather all the documentation you need to prepare your taxes.  These include slips such as T4, T4A, T4E, T5, T5007, receipts and certificates. While most personal tax returns are filed electronically, paper copies or records must be retained and available for CRA by request. One of the tax reduction options still available is RRSP contributions. The deadline for RRSP contributions for the 2017 tax year is March 1, 2018. It’s important to keep track of your RRSP contributions to ensure you don’t go over the limit and incur over-contribution penalties. While you are allowed a lifetime over-contribution of $2000, it’s best to carry any overages into the next tax year. Investments are another unclear area for most people. There are a multitude of qualified RRSP investments available such as segregated or mutual funds, stocks, bonds, ETFs and GICs. It’s important to have a diversified portfolio. In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you haven’t before, this would be a great time to talk to a professional financial advisor. Financial Planners understand all the benefits and risks of each of these options and which would be best suit you and your stage in life. Now that we’ve talked about planning for the upcoming tax season, stay tuned for more advice on tax saving opportunities.

A New Year, a New Financial Plan

January 17, 2018

The holidays are over and the celebrations are complete. Now it’s time to look forward to the new year and all the opportunities it brings. When it comes to resolutions, the focus always seems to centre around appearances and hitting the gym. Perhaps this year it’s worth thinking about hitting the financial plans.

There are a few simple steps you can take on your own to improve your financial situation. The obvious one, of course, is to get control of your spending.  While that seems simple enough, it’s surprising how overwhelming this can seem. So start with the basics. Make a list of all your required monthly expenses; not your wants, but your must have’s.

Include things such as:
–    Rent or mortgage payment
–    Home or renter insurance
–    Property taxes
–    Utilities including hydro, phone, internet, tv
–    Auto insurance
–    Fuel and/or bus pass
–    Food

Once you’ve calculated all your required expenses, subtract that from your net income for the month. Now you know what you have to put aside every month just to get manage your obligations and how much you have left to make decisions on. From here, set an entertainment budget. In the days of digital currency, it’s easy to tap your bank card into debt. One tip is to withdraw your entertainment money in cash on every pay date and then store your bank card. Once the cash is gone, you know you need to find free entertainment options.

Now that you’ve covered the basics, it’s time to think bigger picture. What do you want your money to do for you? The options to achieve your goals are quite vast and you want to make sure you’re making the responsible choice to attain them. If you’re looking at larger purchases or long-term financial planning, this might be the right time to talk to a professional. Financial Planners are able to look at the entire picture and present the best options for your dollars. Not only is it okay to ask for help, it’s the first step in the progression of the new you.

We’d love to help you with your resolutions. Give us a call or contact us today.

Struggling with Finances? You’re Not Alone

December 12, 2017

When you’re sitting at the table shuffling through a stack of bills, or you’re scared to check your email for fear of finding new bills, it’s easy to think you’re all alone.  It’s natural to become overwhelmed and believe there is no way to dig yourself out of your current position. This type of thinking plays directly into your perception of yourself and your self-worth.
Manulife has been studying the link between health and wealth since 2014. What they’ve found was in 2015, financial wellness was connected to productivity. In 2016, it showed that 40% of Canadians are financially unwell. I guess you’re not so alone after all…
In 2017, what has come to light through speaking with professional counselors is there are emotional barriers to financial wellness. People are embarrassed to share their financial woes, are ashamed and feel like they’ve failed. More than half the time people seek help, financial troubles are a part of it and only 1/3 of them see the connection between their financial struggles and their other challenges.
Financial worries can lead to physical manifestations of stress and create or amplify mental health concerns. This level of stress impacts the ability not only to be productive in the workplace, but sometimes to attend the workplace at all. In an average week, 500,000 Canadians miss work, and a whopping 30% of disability claims and 70% of disability costs are associated with mental health issues and illnesses.1
Organizations have the opportunity to provide resources to help. With the right group benefits plan and provider, employees can have access to comprehensive health benefits which include both physical and mental programs. Many of these plans also promote financial well-being and preparedness.
YourStyle Financial is an independent group benefits consulting firm. We offer a range of services geared to help our clients maximize the strength of the dollars they spend on benefits. Schedule a lunch and learn today or contact us.

‘Tis the Season… To be Penny-Wise

November 23, 2017

No, not the creepy clown from IT, more like Uncle Pennybags. As we head into the holiday season, it’s easy to fall into a spending spree with no regard for your financial state. In a time when wish lists are pervasive and the urge to impress is rampant, it’s more important than ever keep an eye on your bank balance. There are many ways to manage your holiday spending. The first step seems an obvious one – set a budget. Write down the list of people you need to buy for, those you like to buy for, your last minute “oh I got you something too” gifts and don’t forget all the incidentals such as food and decorations. Once you know how many gifts you need, set a reasonable amount of money you can afford without incurring unmanageable debt. Now you know how much you have to spend and how many gifts you need to buy. Set a number beside each person and item. Bring this with you when you go shopping and be sure to check it twice. The aforementioned plan is a great way to address holiday spending, however, an added step to this would be to start saving ahead of time. Start a holiday fund at the beginning of the year to help reduce the financial strain at the end of the year. It’s surprising how fast $20 per cheque can add up and how little you would miss it. If you put $20 per cheque in your stocking, by December you would have approximately $440 of disposable income. That’s a lot of cash with very little effort. Another area to be attentive to is holiday socializing. It’s surprising how these events can add a lot of cost to those who are hosting. Why not create an environment that is more in line with the spirit of the season and have everyone bring something? That helps distribute the cost and makes it more enjoyable for all those attending. While it is the season for giving, it’s important to remember to give to yourself. Your gift should be the gift of financial freedom. If you would like a little help on this, contact us.

Snowbirds Fly the Coop to Escape the Cold

November 01, 2017

For as long as memory serves, Canadians of retirement age have been moving south for the winter to escape the cold. This group of people are lovingly referred to as snowbirds. Despite the state of the dollar, Canadians are still holding to this practice. They are also one of the few groups of “foreigners” who are being welcomed by the United States.  Tourism from Canada spurs job growth in the destination towns across the US aiding in their economy. Not to mention that Canadians purchase 6% of all homes sold in Florida, therefore injects nearly half a billion dollars in property taxes per annum.

Most likely due to these factors, the US has tabled a bill to allow Canadians over the age of 55 to stay for up to eight months of the year. While congress wants Canadians to stay longer, the IRS wants to ensure it collects what it can. Currently stays of four months or less have allowed Snowbirds to maintain their US tax exempt status. The new formula is based on this:

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Planning for the Unexpected in Today’s World

October 05, 2017

In 2017 the world has experienced some extremely traumatic events; many centered around major tourists areas. Many people were injured and killed in cartel related shootings in Mexico and most recently the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas. We have even experienced suspected terrorist activities in Canada with the recent attack in Edmonton. Our hearts and sympathies go out to all those affected indirectly and directly by these events. While we like to believe these circumstances will never happen to us, the sad reality is they can happen to anyone, anywhere. This is why it’s so important to plan for the unexpected. Most travellers don’t realize how essential travel insurance can be to both their present and their future. Imagine just flying out for the weekend to enjoy a good time with your family or friends. Now imagine you are being transported to the hospital due to accident, violence or medical issues. Do you want to experience the panic of realizing you could be responsible for tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical bills? Or would you rather focus on your current situation and your healing? Travel insurance can make the difference between those two scenarios. If you’re not thinking about yourself at that moment, have you thought about the impact a tragedy of this nature could have on your family? For one of the Manitoba victims of the Las Vegas massacre, her husband and son are on their way to be with her during her recovery. This is going to involve time off work, flights costs, hotel and food. Were you aware many travel insurance plans provide for these types of costs? Now imagine the worst case scenario (something we all avoid facing), and that is you do not survive. Now your family must not only arrange to transport you home, but also address possible outstanding medical bills. This, at a time when they should be focusing on grieving and healing. In addition to travel insurance, this is another reminder of the necessity for will and estate planning. Choosing someone to be in charge if you become mentally incapacitated and after you die and deciding who will get what, when they will get it, and how they will get it after you’re gone will go a long way towards avoiding family conflict and costly court proceedings. The world is an unpredictable place, but planning your finances and insurance is something within your control. If this is something you are ready to address, we’d be happy to help.

Financial Planning due to divorce

Divorce Debt and Next Steps

September 19, 2017

We’ve covered how to financially survive a divorce and dividing assets, now it’s time to get down to the brass tacks – debt. Some couples come into a marriage with debt, as we talked about in one of our blogs “So You’re Getting Married”, and some couples accrue debt during their marriage. Either way, when a marriage comes to an end, that debt must be dealt with. One approach to addressing marital debt is to pay it off before filing for divorce. This requires a couple who can speak candidly to each other regarding this topic as well as two people who are willing to accept that debt is generally mutually created and accept joint responsibility. More often than not, this situation is just not a reality. Debt is quite often a major instigator of marital breakdown.

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Dividing Assets During Divorce

August 15, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about how to financially prepare for divorce. Facing the topic head-on, while it’s a tough row to hoe, knowing you’re not alone can help. According to Stats Canada, 43% of marriages end in divorce before the 50th anniversary. Reading that, you may think “Who would divorce after being married that long?”. The answer is anyone. Life affects everyone and when you share your life with someone, it affects them too. While knowing this doesn’t make preparing for the emotional impact of divorce any easier, planning your financial decisions ahead of time can put you in a better position to move forward. In life, moving on is the key to moving forward.

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How to Financially Survive Divorce

July 27, 2017

Most people have been exposed to divorce either directly or indirectly and can attest to the impact it has on all involved. Some people avoid the couple and some get far too involved. One of the most damaging aspects of divorce is the financial damage that can be caused if you don’t address the money side as soon as possible.
A “friend of a friend” had been married for a number of years when they found out their spouse was cheating. Emotionally devastated, this friend didn’t know the steps to take to protect themselves. So while they sorted through how they felt and where they wanted to go, their spouse was spending all their money and amassing a large amount of debt. By the time next steps were decided, this friend was now financially responsible for half of the debt.
If this were you, would you know the steps to protect yourself from that level of financial destruction? Did you know if you are directly involved in a divorce, one of the people that can help is your Financial Advisor. At YourStyle Financial, we can help you organize your financial information which will allow you to effectively and efficiently work with your spouse and lawyers. This can also help reduce legal fees, which assists in financial recovery. We’ll start the conversation with a Checklist-divorce-2017 and go from there.
This is just an inch in the well of information and assistance we are able to offer. We’ll be writing again soon on dividing assets and dealing with debts. If you think we can help, be sure to contact us in the early stages of potential separation or divorce.]]>

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