Financial Security, What is it?

Financial Security, What is it?

Financial security refers to the peace of mind you feel when you aren’t worried about your income being enough to cover your expenses. It also means that you have enough money saved to cover emergencies and your future financial goals. When you are financially secure, your stress levels goes down, leaving you free to focus on other issues.

Budgeting for Success

Feeling financially secure requires knowing what your assets and liabilities are, as well as how your income compares to your expenses. If you aren’t tracking these, you might not know you’re struggling, but that’s like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand and hoping for the best. For true financial security, create a budget that addresses both your current needs, like food, clothing and shelter, and your long-term goals, like paying down debt and saving. You should also include insurance to cover the what-ifs in life.

Prioritizing Long-Term Goals

Pay yourself first, when it comes to making your budget. No, that doesn’t mean take the first fruits of your paycheck and go out to eat. Instead, it means make sure you’re setting aside money for long-range goals, like an education fund for your kids, a down payment for a future home or a retirement account for your golden years. If you’re struggling to find enough remaining money to pay down debt, look for discretionary expenses that you can cut.

Building an Emergency Fund

Whether you call it an emergency account, your safe money or a rainy day fund, setting aside several months worth of living expenses is critical for your financial security. That way, when something unexpected like a job loss, refrigerator breaking down, or a child having to go to the hospital pops up, you have the funds to deal with it rather than having to go into debt, especially high interest debt like a payday loan or a balance on your credit card.

Tracking Long-Term Goals

You can’t just set it and forget it when it comes to your budget. Instead, your budget requires maintenance and fine tuning over time to make sure you’re adhering to your goals. For example, if you haven’t been tracking your spending in the past, you might think you’re only spending $100 a month eating out, but could be spending two or three times that amount if you’re not tracking it. If you need help staying on top of your money, contact us at info@henleyfinancial.ca for your free budgeting template. Let us help you achieve your financial goals.

The uncertainty of self isolation… leads to dealing with uncertainty!

The uncertainty of self isolation… leads to dealing with uncertainty!

The most unsettling thing about this time in our lives is not the prospect of self-isolation or social distancing. We seem to be fine with doing what we have to do to win this race for humanity. I’m sure people are happy to wash their hands a skill that was honed in youth ingrained by our parents who knew there would be a time in life we would need this basic skill set in life to survive.

What’s unsettling about this whole crisis, is not knowing when this will end or the uncertainty of time. It would seem many are fine with an infinite time line because that’s how it has to be.

Normally we would just to trust in the experts. Although in this case every day you can read an expert’s article that is opposite of what was published yesterday because this is an unknown.

We have absolutely no way of telling which experts are right. Many have provided different information because there are so many theories or timelines regarding this virus. Because of this our testing protocol may be different by region, province and even countries. The reporting remains a mystery as to or even if it has been reported correctly. We can have no opinion on this because this has been decided for us. There are conflicting numbers, results and treatments. There is also a lack of trust in some that are giving the orders. That in itself, for us, is deeply unnerving. We have always had an opinion regarding politics, sports, music, restaurants, and just about everything in life as this is our freedom. How do we know who’s right and who’s wrong, that’s the part that feels not just weird, but unsettling? The freedom to think for ourselves seems to have been put on hold at least for now. This comfort has abruptly been taken away as we struggle to find factual ways to inform ourselves.

That aside only thing I am sure about: Is that many can work from home and they will be fine, this will become the new normal.  The front-line workers who are there to provide for those in need will be exhausted when this is over.  Unfortunately, they will have to carry on providing this essential service to many that are and have been sick but not from Covid-19. There will be no break for them this will not end with a month or two of self-isolation or so we hope.  Deemed essential businesses will continue to forge ahead… But those owners and employees who cannot work because of circumstances beyond their control are the ones we should worry about.  There is no prospect or timeline to return to work. How will they survive this economic downturn and be able to carry on business as usual? It’s easy to say stay home flatten the curve, but even if these businesses made rent or the mortgage payment this month. What happens next month or the month after?  We as a society cannot flood the market after business returns to normal as most will have their own financial issues to sort through. With no timeline in site the future of these businesses looks dim and jobs will be lost creating a secondary strain moving forward. Unfortunately, for every action taken there will be a consequence and that is the unsettling part.

Keep calm, but don’t carry on

The Spanish flu of 1918-20 – which infected a third of the global population, and, if estimates are correct, killed more people than the two world wars combined. It was of course a different disease, and a different time. But there are many lessons to draw from what happened. For example: “Keep calm and carry on” isn’t always good advice. Hence the reason we have stopped life as we know it. Now we understand panic is dangerous and on the other hand, complacency is also dangerous.

The fear for us right now is not knowing when the end is in sight. We realize there will be an end because we are taking the right steps to ensure the outcome trying to save lives and stop this virus in its tracks.  The uncertainty is more of a time line… Will it be 20 more days, 30 days, 60 days or 90 days? Because all of these time lines have different consequences to each and every individual moving forward regardless of his and her circumstances.  What would your economic situation look like if this continued till June? Some have the means to survive till then others do not.

What choices do we have? We have lost that freedom for now, at least some of us have because we abide by the rules. We know that this will end, but will we change moving forward or chase the dream again… Only time will tell.

I guess the one good thing to come out of this is the return of the family unit as the core of our existence. We have returned again to our roots ingrained by our parents – family first! Something we may as a society been too busy for in the past or took for granted.  Let’s hope that we don’t turn our backs on the family unit again. On the other hand, some children have been expelled from homeschooling already so yes, an adjustment period is required. The future is in our hands (literally… wash our hands!) we have a choice it would be unsettling to know that we have come this far to not win!

I guess the ending is simple we must stay the course even though we have no defined time line in sight. As unsettling as this may be to some, we must Stay Calm Relax and this too shall pass.

Writing this just seemed to make things more acceptable because like many I’m sure, I have not trained for a race of this distance. The finish line seems too far to complete but I shall not let the team down and will find a way to finish.

 

What is the Best Way to Insure Your Mortgage?

What is the Best Way to Insure Your Mortgage?

 

If you have a mortgage it makes good sense to insure it. Owning a debt free home is an objective of any sound financial plan. In addition, making sure your mortgage is paid off in the event of your death will benefit your family greatly.

The question is should you purchase this coverage through your lending institution or from a life insurance company?

It might be convenient when completing the paper work for your new mortgage to just sign one more form, be aware that it might be a costly decision.

 

8 reasons to purchase your mortgage coverage from a life insurance advisor

1) Cost

Term life insurance available from a competitive life insurance company is usually cheaper than mortgage life insurance provided through the lender. This is especially true if you qualify for non-smoker rates.

2) Availability

If you have some health issues, the lenders mortgage insurance may not be available to you. This may not be the case with term life insurance where competitive underwriting and substandard insurance are more readily attainable.

3) Declining coverage

Be aware that the death benefit of creditor/mortgage insurance declines as the mortgage is paid down. Meanwhile, the premium paid or cost of the coverage remains the same.

With term life insurance the death benefit does not decline. You decide how much coverage you want to have. This gives you the flexibility to reduce the amount of coverage and premium when the time is right for you. Or keep it should another need arise or in the event you become uninsurable in the future.

4) Portability

Term Life insurance is not tied to the mortgage giving you flexibility to shift it from one property to the next without having to requalify and possibly pay higher rates.

5) Flexibility

Unlike creditor/mortgage insurance, term life insurance can be for a higher amount than just the mortgage balance so you can protect family income needs and other obligations but pay only one cost-effective premium.

When you pay off your mortgage you will no longer be protected by creditor/mortgage insurance but term life insurance may continue. Also, unlike mortgage insurance, you are able to convert your term life insurance into permanent coverage without a medical.

6) The beneficiary controls the death benefit

With creditor/mortgage insurance there is no choice in what happens to the money when you die. The proceeds simply retire the balance owing on your mortgage and the policy cancels.

With term life insurance your beneficiary decides how to use the insurance proceeds. For example, if the mortgage carries a very low interest rate compared to available fixed income yields, it might be preferable to invest the insurance proceeds rather than to immediately pay off the mortgage.

7) Can your claim be denied?

Often creditor/mortgage insurance coverage is reviewed when a death claim is submitted. Creditor/mortgage insurance allows for the denial of the claim in certain situations even after the coverage has been in effect beyond that 2 year period.

Term life insurance is incontestable after two years except in the event of fraud.

8) Advice

Your bank or mortgage broker can advise you on the best arrangement to fund your mortgage but advice on the most appropriate way to arrange your life insurance is best obtained from a qualified insurance advisor who can implement your life insurance coverage according to your overall requirements.

Your mortgage will probably represent the single largest debt (and asset) you will acquire. Making sure your mortgage doesn’t outlive you is the most prudent thing you can do for your family.

Contact me @ Henley Financial and Wealth Management  if you think it is time to review your current insurance protection.

 

The First RRSP

The First RRSP

The first RRSP — then called a registered retirement annuity — was created by the federal government in 1957. Back then, Canadians could contribute up to 10 per cent of their income to a maximum of $2,500. RRSPs still remain one of the cornerstones of retirement planning for Canadians. In fact, as employer pension plans become increasingly rare, the ability to save inside an RRSP over the course of a career can often make or break your retirement.

The deadline to make RRSP contributions for the 2018 tax year is March 1st, 2019.

If you need help or advice with you tax planning or investments we are always available to help @henleyfinancial.ca

Anyone living in Canada who has earned income has to file a tax return which will create RRSP contribution room. Canadian taxpayers can contribute to their RRSP until December 31st of the year he or she turns 71.

Contribution room is based on 18 percent of your earned income from the previous year, up to a maximum contribution limit of $26,230 for the 2018 tax year. Don’t worry if you’re not able to use up your entire RRSP contribution room in a given year – unused contribution room can be carried-forward indefinitely.

Keep an eye on over-contributions, however, as the taxman levies a stiff 1 percent penalty per month for contributions that exceed your deduction limit. The good news is that the government built-in a safeguard against possible errors and so you can over-contribute a cumulative lifetime total of $2,000 to your RRSP without incurring a penalty tax.

Find out your RRSP deduction limit on your latest notice of assessment clearly stated.

You can claim a tax deduction for the amount you contribute to your RRSP each year, which reduces your taxable income. However, just because you made an RRSP contribution doesn’t mean you have to claim the deduction in that tax year. It might make sense to wait until you are in a higher tax bracket to claim the deduction.

When should you contribute to an RRSP?

When your employer offers a matching program: Some companies offer to match their employees’ RRSP contributions, often adding between 25 cents and $1.50 for every dollar put into the plan. Take advantage of this “free” gift from your employers.

When your income is higher now than it’s expected to be in retirement: RRSPs are meant to work as a tax-deferral strategy, meaning you get a tax-deduction on your contributions today and your investments grow tax-free until it’s time to withdraw the funds in retirement, a time when you’ll hopefully be taxed at a lower rate. So contributing to your RRSP makes more sense during your high-income working years rather than when you’re just starting out in an entry-level position.

A good rule of thumb: Consider what is going to benefit you the most from a tax perspective.

When you want to take advantage of the Home Buyers’ Plan: First-time homebuyers can withdraw up to $25,000 from their RRSP tax-free to put towards a down payment on a home. Would-be buyers can also team up with their spouse or partner to each withdraw $25,000 when they purchase a home together. The withdrawals must be paid back over a period of 15 years – if you do not pay one fifteenth of the borrowed money, the amount owed in that calendar year it will be added to your taxable income for that year.

Unless it’s an emergency then it’s generally a bad idea to withdraw from your RRSP before you retire. You would have to report the amount you take out as income on your tax return. You won’t get back the contribution room that you originally used.

Also, your bank will hold back taxes – 10 percent on withdrawals under $5,000, 20 percent on withdrawals between $5,000 and $15,000, and 30 percent on withdrawals greater than $15,000 – and pay it directly to the government on your behalf. That means if you take out $20,000 from your RRSP, you will end up with $14,000 but you’ll have to add $20,000 to your taxable income at tax time. This is done to insure that you pay enough tax upfront for the withdrawal at the source so that you are not hit with an additional tax bill (assessment) when you file your tax return.

What kind of investments can you hold inside your RRSP?

A common misconception is that you “buy RRSPs” when in fact RRSPs are simply a type of account with some tax-saving attributes. It acts as a container in which to hold all types of instruments, such as a savings account, GICs, stocks, bonds, REITs, and gold, to name a few. You can even hold your mortgage inside your RRSP.

If you hold investments such as cash, bonds, and GICs then it makes sense to keep them sheltered inside an RRSP because interest income is taxed at a higher rate than capital gains and dividends.

For more information regarding investments and RRSP’s contact us at Henley Financial and Wealth Management

 

 

A new year means new financial limits.

A new year means new financial limits.

Here’s a list of data for 2019 

Pension and RRSP contribution limits

  • The new limit for RRSPs for 2019 is 18% of the previous year’s earned income or $26,500 whichever is lower less the Pension Adjustment (PA).
  • The limit for Deferred Profit Sharing Plans is $13,615
  • The limit for Defined Contribution Pensions is $27,230

Remember that contributions made in January and February of 2019 can be used as a tax deduction for the 2018 tax year.

Tax YearIncome fromRRSP Maximum Limit
20192018$26,500
20182017$26,230
20172016$26,010
20162015$25,370
20152014$24,930
20142013$24,270
20132012$23,820
20122011$22,970
20112010$22,450
20102009$22,000
20092008$21,000

TFSA limits

  • The TFSA limit for 2019 is $6,000.
  • The cumulative limit since 2009 is $63,500

TFSA Limits for past years

YearAnnual LimitCumulative Limit
2019$6,000$63,500
2018$5,500$57,500
2017$5,500$52,000
2016$5,500$46,500
2015$10,000$41,000
2014$5,500$31,000
2013$5,500$25,500
2012$5,000$20,000
2011$5,000$15,000
2010$5,000$10,000
2009$5,000$5,000

Canada Pension Plan (CPP)

Lots of changes are happening with CPP but here’s some of the most important planning data.

  • Yearly Maximum Pensionable Earning (YMPE) – $57,400
  • Maximum CPP Retirement Benefit – $1154.58 per month
  • Maximum CPP Disability benefit –  $1362.30 per month
  • Maximum CPP Survivors Benefit
    • Under age 65 – $626.30
    • Over age 65 – $692.75

Reduction of CPP for early benefit – 0.6% for every month prior to age 65.  At age 60, the reduction is 36%.

CPP rates for past years:

YearMonthlyAnnual
2019$1154.58$13,854.96
2018$1134.17$13,610.04
2017$1114.17$13,370.04
2016$1092.50$13,110.00
2015$1065.00$12,780.00
2014$1038.33$12,459.96
2013$1012.50$12,150.00
2012$986.67$11,840.04
2011$960.00$11,520.00
2010$934.17$11,210.04
2009$908.75$10,905.00

Old Age Security (OAS)

  • Maximum OAS – $586.66 per month
  • The OAS Clawback (recovery) starts at $77,580 of income.  At $125,696 of income OAS will be fully clawed back.

OAS rates for past years:

YearMaximum Monthly BenefitMaximum Annual Benefit
2019$601.45$7,217.40
2018$586.66$7,039.92
2017$578.53$6,942.36
2016$570.52$6,846.24
2015$563.74$6,764.88
2014$551.54$6,618.48
2013$546.07$6,552.84
2012$540.12$6,481.44
2011$524.23$6,290.76

New Federal Tax Brackets

For 2018, the tax rates have changed.

Lower Income limitUpper Income limitMarginal Rate Rate
$0.00$12,069.000.00%
$12,069.00$47,630.0015.00%
$47,630.00$95,259.0020.50%
$95,259.00$147,667.0026.00%
$147,667.00$210,371.0029.00%
$210,371.0033.00%

Remember these rates do not include provincial tax. For new provincial rates, visit the CRA site.