In The News

We’re a regular contributor to MoneySense magazine. We were invited to the 2018 Federal budget lock-up and were published in Macleans Magazine. In 2016 we entered a National financial planning competition and placed 2nd over-all.

“I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your articles in money sense. I read them as they come out and am learning so much from you. Thank you for your well written, concise articles.”

When does investing in flow-through shares make sense?

Q. My wife and I are nearing the end of our working careers. We are big planners and have a financial plan that we have been successfully working with for over 15 years. My wife will be retiring from teaching in two to three years with a full pension. As a part of our plan I left my job this May prior to my 50th birthday to pull my Pension (I know this is a controversial move, but did I mention our 15-year plan?), I am planning on returning to work for the next few years.

What are the pros and cons of investing in private REITs?

Q. Over the years I have done well investing in a private Real Estate Income Trust (REIT) and I wonder why they are not recommended more often by advisors. Am I missing something? And where can I find more information on REITs?

Beyond financial planning: How to achieve the lifestyle you want

Q. I have just turned 40, am single, and earn $86,000 a year. I also have zero debt. I just finished paying off my house, worth $315,000, and I would like to continue to put away my mortgage payment of $1,000 every two weeks as savings.

Should I invest my money or buy a life insurance policy instead?

Q: My wife and I are both 40 and have two kids—ages 5 and 7. We are considering buying a joint last-to-die life insurance policy that would cost a fixed $7,105 per year for ten years. That’s a total of $71,050 and the policy would pay $500,000 when the last of us dies. This is a proposition from our advisor after we have made our retirement plan. We have concluded that we have enough savings to retire at 55 with a very comfortable nest egg made up of TFSAs, RRSPs, and defined benefit pension plans, as well as money in non-registered investments.

What’s better, a LIRA or an enhanced pension?

Q. I plan on retiring in the next year. I will have BC Municipal Pension Plan income as well as about $400,000 dollars in my Special Agreements (SA) account. Just to clarify, an SA is a unique feature of BC pensions. The contributions can be transferred to a locked-in retirement vehicle or used to increase your lifetime monthly pension—you choose. I have been employed with the same company for 32 years. So when I retire, I have to make one of these two choices with my SA—leave the money in the pension and receive it added on to my monthly pension OR put the entire amount into a locked-in registered retirement fund (LIRA). I am not sure what the benefits of each would be, and which I should do. I do like the idea of putting it into a locked-in fund, separate from my monthly pension income so that whatever is remaining when I die, will go to my children. Any advice you could give would be much appreciated.

She’s 34 and wants to retire at 65 with $70,000 a year. Can she?

Q. I need some advice on saving for retirement. I’m 34 years old and hope to retire at age 65 with a gross annual income of $70,000. I currently earn $110,000 a year from my job at a law firm.

How should a new Canadian invest his extra cash?

Q. I am a new Canadian (27 years old) and started working in Canada about 1.5 years ago. It took me a while to figure out how things work in this country and a few months ago, after ditching a financial advisor who was also a family friend, I started investing on my own.

Are annuities, bonds or GICs best for an 80-year-old’s money?

Q: My wife and I receive about $2,500 a month each in pensions. Plus, we each have about $75,000 in our TFSA accounts and about $180,000 in our RIF accounts. I have never been a fan of bonds, so for the last few years, I have invested in higher yield shares and ETFs. This has proved very successful and has supplemented our pensions generously so that we can travel four or more times a year.

At 66, borrowing to invest in a TFSA isn’t a good idea

Q. I am 66 years old and have not had a good financial plan, but hope to work for another 5-10 years. I own my condo and will have it paid off in full in 5 to 6 years. I also have no savings to speak of—except for $12,000.

How to invest a $240,000 inheritance

Q: I am 63 years old, and stayed home to raise my family for a number of years, so do not have a lot of employment years or high income. I am currently working, but my health is slowly diminishing due to rheumatoid arthritis and not sure how much longer I can work full time.

How to give your kids TFSA investment advice

Q: I would just like to get some tips on how to advise my young adults on where to invest their money. They are ages 22 and 23. It’s for their TFSA.

How should a 24-year-old invest a $500,000 inheritance?

Q: My parents recently passed away and I inherited close to $500,000. I am 24 years old working as an engineer-in-training in Toronto with an annual salary of $65,000. My student loans are paid off and I carry no credit card debt. I currently live off my own salary with about 40% of my after-tax income going towards rent and car payments. I put 8% of my salary towards a company matched RRSP and they match an additional 4%. My TFSA is capped in a mix of ETFs.

What’s the safest, most tax-efficient way for Jim to invest $500,000?

Q: I have $500,000 coming to me soon from a property sale and am looking for the best fixed-income product to invest in. I have no immediate use for these funds but I’m hoping it can be tax efficient too. Any suggestions?

Easy way to calculate capital gains tax on DRIP shares

Q: I purchased 100 Bank of Nova Scotia dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) common shares @ $30.60 in 1994 and have since added 300 shares through their Optional Cash Purchases at different intervals. My account today has a balance of almost 950 shares in total @ $77.00 (certificate shares and drip shares).

TFSA penalties for holding foreign investments

Q: I have a TFSA and have read a lot about investing within a TFSA, but one area is still a question mark in my mind— investing in equities or funds that are on an exchange from outside of Canada or equities that are listed on the TSX or Venture exchanges but have out-of-country holdings. So my question is:

What to do with a $2.4 million retirement portfolio

Q: My wife and I have a portfolio of about $1,600,000 in dividend-paying stocks that include banks and financials, REITs, pipelines, utilities, some ETFs tracking Canadian and U.S. high dividends stocks and the US S&P 500, and ETF tracking all the world except Canada. We also have $800,000 in GICs and high-interest savings accounts. We are also fortunate to have Defined Benefit pensions and annuities producing about $130,000 in income per year. My question is, what should I be doing with our investments at this point? We have more than enough to live on and won’t likely ever spend all this money. We are both 77 years old.

How much to save and invest to cover inflation for 40 years

Q: I’m pretty lucky to have a defined benefit pension from my employer. I will receive $60,000 annually from it in five years. Unfortunately, it will not be indexed. How can I calculate the amount of saving that I need before retirement to cover the inflation for 40 years? I want to keep the same power of buying.

Best investment strategies for newcomers to Canada

Q: I will be immigrating to Canada in November with my spouse and three children, and I need advice on the investment opportunities a new immigrant can take advantage of. We have done a budget of our landing costs and have realized that we have an excess of $10,000 CAD outside the cost of living expenses for six months.

Spousal RRSP or TFSA: The best option for a retired couple

Q: When my husband turned 60 we set up a spousal RRSP account for me and put his $800 monthly Canada pension cheque into it. We did this because I was a stay at home parent and there will be no pension for me. Now, five years later the balance is at $55,000. My husband is now retired, we live on his employer pension and continue to put his Canada pension in this spousal RRSP that was set up for me. I’m not sure this is the best way to invest that money. Should we be looking at other options? If so should we leave what’s already in the RRSP where it is and start doing something else with new contributions? Again, we contribute about $800 each month.

Best way to allocate cash in a $1.4 million retirement portfolio

Q: My wife and I are both 66 years old, retired in British Columbia, and have no kids (that I know of!) We both receive CPP (about $550/monthly each) and full OAS ($470/monthly each). About 10 years ago, we both agreed to get rid of our financial advisor and manage our portfolio ourselves. Out of interest and because I enjoy investing as a hobby, I decided to manage everything myself, sharing information on our investments with my wife a few times a year (she has no interest in investing herself.)

Should you sell mutual funds with DSC charges?

Q: I had a Life Income Fund (LIF) with one of the Big Five banks and a few years ago I met a person who said he could make my money grow faster with his company’s mutual funds. I decided to invest with him. Two years on and I’m losing money on it, and not due to the stock market’s performance. So I’ve decided it’s best to move my money back to the Big Five Bank. I have been told now that I will have to pay a Deferred Sales Charge (DSC fee) in order to do so. I was never advised of this fee or told that there would be implications if I moved my money down the road, at the time that I signed my money over to them, and now I could lose thousands just to move my money. Is there a way to fight this? I’m not a savvy investor, and I think I’ve been had!

My advisor sold me high-fee funds. Should I dump her?

Q. My RRSP and TFSA are invested in mutual funds with MERs of 2% to 2.4%. Should I be looking at investing in ETFs, which are cheaper? I do have a financial planner who must work with the funds she can access and those include Sentry, Dynamic, CI and BMO. Should I stay with the advisor and use the mutual funds offered or go the ETF route which would likely be cheaper for me? How do I decide? Would sure appreciate your advice.

Is taking CPP at age 60 the best option for a lower income earner?

Q: Is taking CPP at age 60 the best option for a lower-income working person? Is it really leaving money on the table to wait until age 65 to start taking it? I have a yearly income of about $47,000 now and a company defined contribution pension plan worth about $200,000 with my employer. What’s the bests strategy to maximize my income in retirement?

Can a TFSA be invested in a life annuity?

Q: I read on an insurance broker’s blog it’s possible to have an annuity within a TFSA so the payout would happen within the TFSA, and I’ve been trying to have that set up for months. I contacted eight insurance companies, and they all said it’s not possible. Instead, they suggest their lifetime income products such as Guaranteed Investment Funds (GIFs) so I’m confused. Can you have an annuity within a TFSA or not? And if so, how and where can it be done?

How to retire in your 40s with $60,000 a year for life

Joanna and Charlie A. are both 44 years old and live in London, Ont. Joanna, a physician, has spent the last 20 years managing the family’s investments and next year, she wants to hang up her white coat and dedicate herself to freelance writing—a side hustle she’s had for several years now.

Can Anne, 63, afford to retire right now?

Anne, a 63-year-old divorced human resource manager earning $100,000 annually, retired a year ago and has been living off a small $45,000 inheritance. But she is worried. “I don’t have a company pension so I will have to start drawing down my investment portfolio later this year,” says Anne.


Q. If my spouse and I retire at age 60 in about three years—and want to have $45,000 net annually to spend—how much money will we need to have saved? We have no company pensions—only full CPP and OAS. We expect to live to age 85.

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