Planning for the Other Side of Economic Shutdown

It’s been over a month into this economic shutdown and I don’t know about you, but I’m going stir crazy! With warnings that a second wave of COVID-19 is coming and that it’s going to be worse than the first, we are stuck at home for the foreseeable future as our Provincial and Federal governments have yet to create a plan to open up the economy.
This is worrisome from a financial and economic standpoint!

Canada had a rough start to the year with the protests that shut down Canada and our country does not have the financial means to replace the private sector for 4 months, much less the 18 months till a vaccine comes out. Our private sector is what pays for the public sector and both sides of the employment gig are going to get hammered. It is officially cheaper to buy a barrel of oil than it is a cup of coffee and things are going to get bad fast because Canada as a whole, not just Alberta, rely on oil prices to pay for public services.

Things are bad, really bad, worse than you probably realize or are willing to admit. It’s human nature to ignore the bad and to think “it will never happen to me.” In saying that, things are also good too and there is more opportunity out there then ever before. While it may seem difficult to dole out financial advice while a significant portion of the population is in survival mode, there are a few things that are central to getting through this and for planning for the next few years. Yes, YEARS, not just months.

Here are a few things that you can do to plan better through the challenges that are coming:

You plant a garden. Hopefully summer comes this year because we didn’t get one last year. You have no where to go and nothing to do – so plant a garden. There is nothing quite like fresh veggies grown in your backyard and it gets you outside for some fresh air and exercise. The price of food is likely going to go up as food supply chains are likely to be interrupted, so grow your own.

You look for new ways to make money. This will be part of the new normal. Everything is being done online, existing businesses have had to change their business structures, and there are more opportunities out there than ever before to. Be creative. Be bold. Don’t wait for the opportunity to come to you, you go to it. Even in a depression there is still money in the economy. It will never dry up. It will just move differently and it’s up to you to get it.

You get your finances in order.

You take control.

You get your life insurance in order. If you don’t have it, you call me. If you have it, you call me to make sure that it is enough. Over 70% of people don’t have any or don’t have enough. You are probably one of them. The life insurance on your mortgage through your lender isn’t going to cut it. I’m not sure that it would pay out anyways because of the restrictions it has outside of coronavirus (which is in the fine print that no one reads) and because of what we know about COVID-19 deaths. You can’t hide in your house forever, coronavirus or not, because that is NOT LIVING. This won’t be the last virus. Apparently, this is only the first wave. There are other things lurking out there. Get it in order now because I know with the economic crash the premiums will be going up once we get through this.

You get your estate documents and will in order. There’s no excuse not to. Especially if you have kids. Especially if you own a business. Especially if you are over 18. Everyone needs one.

You make sure that you have no less than 3 months of living expenses saved in a HISA (high interest savings account). You call me to get set up with the best one’s, one’s that pay much higher than your bank ever will.

You should take a look at updating your mortgage to have a flexible mortgage. I know I’m sounding repetitive, but call me, I have some good one’s. You are going to need that flexibility because things are going to get rough. Do it now while you can because housing prices are more than likely to drop significantly and lenders are going to be less likely to write them.

You save money every month even if it’s only $50 a month. Everyone has $50 a month to save even if you have to collect pop cans on the side of the road to get it. You don’t have to tell anyone that is what you are doing, you just do it and you save it. You take this financial advice and you maximize it and realize that it is no longer enough to just save a little bit every paycheque for short periods of uncertainty. It is necessary to save for longer periods of uncertainty.

You prepare to not have CPP in retirement. You take control of your own retirement and you plan around that. Average retirement age in Canada is 72. I’m sure you want to retire before then. Business owners should only be paying into CPP in very specific circumstances. You take the time to review this.

You plan now for how you will get through a drop in the markets in retirement. There are a few different strategies to do this and you call me to go through your options so that a drop in the investment market won’t push your retirement back longer than you want.

You get your financial plan in place because that will reduce your stress and improve the quality of your life because you don’t have to walk around afraid and stressed anymore.
You start to evaluate what is important in your life. Some of the things you were spending money on before has been completely unnecessary and you create a goal to have 3 months of living expenses saved before you go back to spending that money again. You can’t spend it right now, so save it.

You start to create good life habits. You get up in the morning and work out. Yes, you can workout at home. There are so many online workouts available. You watch less TV and pick up a book instead or go for a walk. You find a hobby that you can turn into a business. You plan for what you are going to do once this is all over. Just because the government doesn’t have a plan yet, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

You stop living in fear because you have your life in control.

You realize that the worst that can happen is that you are financially in control and prepared. If nothing bad happens, you are so much further ahead. It is so much better to have 20/20 vison than have hindsight be 20/20.

You have time to call and review what you need to do financially. There’s no better time to do it than now. Zoom has been working wonderfully for me to review your financial plan with you and I know you have time. Let’s create clear 20/20 vision!

3 Ways to Change Your Financial Situation TODAY!

Over the last almost 10 years of working with people and money, I have experienced and witnessed so many different things. Different money attitudes and beliefs, different financial situations – good, bad and especially the “I want that client’s financial portfolio”, different goals and objectives, and certainly varying forms of financial fear.

You have all heard “The rich get rich and the poor get poorer and the middle-class struggle in debt”, right?

Why does it work that way?

First, rich people have a different mindset. They view money differently than most people do. They talk about it differently, they use it differently, money is a different game to them altogether.

Second, rich people are more financially literate. They are eager to learn more about it and they have a whole team working with them to manage it from financial people like myself, to accountants and lawyers. Don’t be fooled in believing that they do it themselves. Not even Warren Buffet or Bill Gates manage their finances alone.

The gap between the rich, middle class, and poor happens because the subject of money is taught at home and not in schools. I often hear, “I wish I would have learned that in school!” In fact, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I would be rich already! But schools are designed to teach scholastic and professional skills, not money skills. That leaves us with learning our financial skills from our parents.

If your parents are among the rich, then lucky you! You are being passed down a financial mindset, financial literacy and a financial team to help you get ahead faster in life. And by rich, I mean, have more than a few million in assets, cash flow, and are at least in the top 5%.

For the rest of you, which is where the majority of people fit – 95%, you are learning from your parents the exact same mindsets as your parents. It’s not that your parents are trying to hurt you or that you as a parent are trying to hurt your kid, this is just the way it works. The following phrases are likely something you have heard your parents say, or you have said, at some point in your life, if not recently. It’s time to change that.

Here are 3 things that will help you change your financial situation today:

1. Stop saying “I can’t afford it” and start saying “How can I afford it?” Everyone is guilty of this and I hear it way too often. By saying “How can I afford it?”, you put your brain to work. It doesn’t mean you should buy everything you want; it means you are starting to think of ways to do it and you are exercising your brain. By saying “I can’t afford it”, you are automatically shutting down any creativity and problem solving skills. It’s a sign of laziness. Just like working out and eating healthy increases your chance of health, proper mental exercise increases your chance of wealth.
2. Stop saying “I’m poor” and start saying “I’m broke” instead and even go a little further to add, “I am rich”. Poor is an eternal state, whereas broke is a temporary situation and lots of extremely rich people have had periods of time when they were broke.
3. Stop saying “The reason I’m not rich is because I have you kids” and start saying “The reason I must be rich is because I have you kids”. Interestingly enough, I am guilty of saying the first one and only thinking the second one. Words are so powerful and we need to choose them wisely.

Positive thinking alone and choosing your words correctly are only the beginning of fixing your current financial situation. There is education and action as well. Financial literacy is at an all time low. Outside of our parents, it is taught by the banks and the government and they are way too corrupt to be teaching people about money. This explains the why the majority of people’s financial situations are what they are.

Money is only one form of power and security. Financial education is much more powerful. Money comes and goes, but if you know how money works, you gain power over it and can begin building wealth.

Doing Your Taxes VS Tax Planning

As most of my clients know, I talk about taxes a LOT. Why? It’s the easiest place to save money!
No, I am not an accountant. This is much different than accounting. Here is the simplest way to explain it.
Whether you like RRSP’s or not (and if you are a business owner, you shouldn’t), RRSP’s are an excellent tax saving strategy. They reduce your tax and defer tax as long as the money is invested.
RRSP’s are something that I do. I go through them with you and explain the tax savings and tax deferral. I help you pick from a variety of investments to put the money in depending on your investment goals, comfort levels, age, etc.
Your accountant takes the receipts you receive for your RRSP contributions to get you a reduction or a refund of your income tax bill when they do your taxes. They aren’t reviewing the actual investments because that isn’t their expertise.
If you aren’t using RRSP’s, your accountant most likely won’t recommend them. Not because they aren’t good to use, but like I said, that’s not their expertise.
I’m using this example because most people are familiar with an RRSP. There are so many different strategies that I put together for your accountant to use in a similar strategy.
Tax rules change every year. With those tax changes, financial products change in response to adapt to the new tax rules. While both your accountant and I are staying on top of the tax changes for you, I have the added benefit of staying on top of the changes with the financial products.
I try to review with clients every year a lot of the tax changes that will affect them now and, in the future, because they change every year. It’s a good conversation to have with me and it will help your accountant out too!

Your Life as a Statistic

There are 2 paths that we can take in our lives. The first one is the one that we have created so far. Our families, our financial situations, our health, our hobbies. It is good, comfortable and predictable. In fact, it is so predictable that for 80% of people, scientists can project with amazing accuracy what the trajectory of what our lives will look like.

Then there is the 2nd path. The one that is scary, uncomfortable, unpredictable, and with more than a few problems along the way. It doesn’t sound very appealing does it?
Take a look at these sobering financial statistics:
“….. take any 100 people at the start of their working careers and follow them for the next 40 years until they reach retirement age, here’s what you will find:

Only 1 will be wealthy
4 will be financially secure
5 will continue working, not because they want to, but because they have to
36 will be dead
54 will be broke and dependent on friends, family, relatives, and the government to take care of them.” Hal Elrod; US Government
Having been a Financial Planner for more than a few years, I see these statistics manifest way too often. They are much more predictable than you think. Out of 100 clients, I don’t know which 36 will be dead, of course, but it is easy to spot the differences between the top 5 and the bottom 54.
What is different between the top 5 and the bottom 54? Lots! This is the first newsletter. Over time I will discuss different ideas, strategies and mindsets that really separate the two groups of people. I don’t claim to be a great motivator, great leader, or even very inspirational. The top 5 don’t actually need that. The top 5 are looking for opportunities along the second path, and that’s where I come in.

The top 5 people have a different attitude about opportunities and money in general. They treat money differently. They have a strategy and focus on long-term instead of getting stuck in the moment. They use debt efficiently and have it work for them instead of against them. They use tax strategies to keep more money in their pockets. They respect money on a higher level and take care of it differently; that’s why they have more of it. It’s not economies, stock markets, or bad luck that cause a lack of money. They use those problems to their advantage, know those problems are short term, and turn them into opportunities that the bottom 54 miss out on.
The traits, mindsets, and qualities of the top 5 can be learned by anyone. The top 5 did not become the top 5 because they naturally possessed these skills. Regardless of what end of the money spectrum you are on, there is a chance that you learned your current money skills and attitudes from your parent’s, friend’s, community or co-workers, even if unknowingly. If any of them are multi-millionaires, then great, you have likely picked up on some of the right mindsets just by association. If they aren’t, then you might have picked up on some negative money beliefs that you aren’t even aware of.
The best thing about all of this is, it doesn’t matter what situation you are in financially, how old you are, or what your current views of money are; you can start where you are and you can change it. The sooner you start, the further ahead you will get. The key is, as Tony Robbins says, “taking massive action”. The expression “window of opportunity” carries the truth that opportunities only stay open for a few, brief moments. Hesitate, procrastinate, and the window closes shut. Unfortunately, the bottom 54 don’t recognize the path they are on until later in the game.
There will be lots of tips and strategies and mindsets coming in newsletters as time goes on, but if you are wanting the opportunity to start earlier, let’s get a coffee. There really is no time like the present!

Tip for Volatile Financial Markets

Due to COVID-19 and the volatility in the financial markets, I thought it would be appropriate to bring up a topic that most Canadians don’t like talking about, and that’s life insurance.

A few people have been asking me if their policies would pay out in the event they passed away from COVID-19. The short answer is yes, all the policies I write will. The next answer is – it will depend on the life insurance policy.

Here are some key pieces of information:
1. In-force life insurance policies cover claims arising from Coronavirus-related deaths
2. No COVID-19 related exclusions currently in the new life insurance applications
3. Providers may consider adding exclusions on future policies if the current pandemic evolves adversely. If you have a policy written today, that exclusion will never exist on your policy if providers decide to add this exclusion later
4. If a covered condition is triggered due to COVID-19, Critical Illness Insurance policies will cover claims, as long as survival period is complete
5. Disability insurance will pay out for COVID related illnesses, if the waiting period is met
6. Several of my insurance company partners have introduced flexible parameters to allow faster life insurance purchases without requiring in-person medical exams

When would it not pay out?
An overwhelming number of people purchase the life insurance coverage offered by their mortgage provider, and nothing else. There is fine print that no one reads when it comes to these types of policies, and even though this type of coverage is often highlighted in the news about the downfalls and drawbacks, people still buy it.

This type of life insurance is underwritten at death. At that time the company will determine whether they will pay out or not. If they discover that there was an underlying condition, they won’t pay out.

Because the deaths related to COVID have typically been because of a pre-existing condition or age, this could leave room for these types of policies to not pay out.

What should you do?
In 2019 Policy Advisor magazine had conducted its first State of the Nation: Canadian Life Insurance Trends to determine consumer trends and attitudes towards life insurance. Not surprisingly, the poll revealed how unprepared Canadians are if a life-altering event occurred.

*Key findings:
1. Forty-nine percent of Canadians who have dependents said they’ve never purchased life insurance.
2. Almost 80% failed to review their life insurance coverage.
3. Nearly half of those surveyed think life insurance is a prohibitive expense.

Well, one of the world’s most successful insurance advisors said it best.

“There’s a price tag on doing nothing, and there’s a price tag of doing something. But the price tag of doing nothing is far greater than the price tag of doing something.”
–Ben Feldman

The critical take away from this survey…, Don’t put off something that can be done today. Perhaps now is the time to address the “financial gaps” that exist in your personal situation.

Without going into the intricacies of how life insurance premiums are determined, there are a few things that I do know once this pandemic is over.

1. Life insurance premiums will be going up. Today is the best time to get a policy that fits better within your budget.
2. Policies could exclude pandemics in the future because this won’t be the last one. Policies written today still cover for that type of death.
3. Reviewing your coverage is of utmost importance to make sure you don’t have gaps that you weren’t even aware of. The majority of people don’t know what they are or aren’t covered for.

Application process made easier (NON-Face-to-Face Option)

Since our health is of paramount importance, NON-Face-to-Face applications can be conducted on the phone and through the internet. Paramedical service providers have temporarily stopped doing medical exams and are not accepting home visits. However, there are insurance companies that have relaxed their underwriting standards, offering life insurance coverage WITHOUT MEDICAL EXAMS (within established limits), while using an accelerated underwriting approach.

If you would like a quotation please don’t hesitate to email or call. I’d welcome the opportunity to be of personal assistance.

Let’s all stay safe and I look forward to talking you.

Kristi Allan

Perfect Opportunity or Perfect Excuse

Let’s get real here for a minute….. the world is going CRAZY!

There is so much going on, I don’t even know where to start. But are you using this as the perfect opportunity or the perfect excuse? Maybe you are panicking?

I get told by a lot of people that I’m overly optimistic, way more optimistic than they are. I guess that might be part of my job. Don’t get me wrong, I feel and experience what every one is going through daily in our province and it’s a rough time. It hurts us all. But because of what I do, I have to insulate myself from all the negativity because there are so many positive opportunities out there! I plan for the future, I look at future trends, what has happened in the past and how things moved forward, and I apply that to everyday living and planning.

Here are the opportunities that you have right now!

1. Start Investing
If you have even an extra $5 to spare, invest it. The markets will recover, they always have and always will. There are some companies, like Disney for example, that are on a super good sale right now and they will bounce back big time once COVID-19 is contained. You will never have a more opportune time to buy some of the best quality investments than right now.

We actually know from the past that these types of situations have caused significant market pullbacks. We also know that they have resulted in massive bounce backs. Instead of hoarding toilet paper or groceries, (don’t worry, we won’t run out) hoard investments.

2. Start Planning
I understand that some companies are going to take a hit. Not all – SOME. Things have been bleak in Alberta for a while, this is nothing new to us. As bad as things sound when we are talking with our neighbors, friends, or business owners, we have to remember that a significant of majority of Alberta is still employed! The unemployment rate is not 100%, in fact, it’s not even 10%. Of course, that is going to change during this shutdown across the world, but when this passes, and it WILL, things are going to return to normal.

There should always be contingency plans in place personally and for businesses for slow times. If not, now is the time to plan it. Since people are spending less on extracurricular activities, you might now have extra funds to put away. Businesses, the government says they are going to be helping, so don’t panic but plan for the next time. There will always be a next time!

Plus, plan for when things turn around. If you are not planning for when things turn around, that could be part of your problem too. Know how you are going to allocate your money. Create a debt repayment plan that isn’t going to break the tax bank. Create the proper cash flow strategies to achieve your financial goals in the end. If you look to the future and plan around that, it helps you get through the day to day grind. Don’t get too stuck in this immediate moment. It is so temporary!

Fail to plan, plan to fail.

3. Get Creative
This is one of the best times in your planning to get creative and to see what opportunities are available right now. As I said, not everyone is going to be hurt through this, in fact, more people will make it through this tough time than not. Some businesses will actually flourish because they got creative with their planning.
There is an opportunity in every disaster! This is your time to shine if you decide to confront it. What are your plans? Are you going to focus on today’s negative? Or are you going to look at all the opportunities that you have in this situation? There are so many opportunities if you embrace them.

Take the time out and get away from the “busy”. Take the time to plan for a better tomorrow. Don’t panic. This is temporary and I see a lot of good that will come out of this in the end.

If you need a pep talk, I’m always just a phone call away. If you want to do some planning to get through this and need some ideas and strategies for your business, I have some good stuff. Sometimes it helps to have someone else in on the conversation to get the creative juices flowing. Each situation is so individual, but I want to see everyone succeed through this, and you will – if you focus on just that!

Financial Experiment for 2020

It’s almost the end of the first month of the year. Did you set financial goals to start the year? Are you actively working toward them or are you just hoping that they happen? January 17th was the worldwide ditch your New Year’s Resolutions day and then January 20th was Blue Monday when people get their credit card statements. Have you lasted longer?

Here’s a financial experiment for you to start the year with that might make financial goal setting a little more of an urgent reality.

Did you know that the average combined CPP and OAS payment in Canada last year was $1286 per month? If you are married and are both receiving the average CPP payment and maxing out OAS, your combined monthly income would be about $2275 per month.
I’m sure you have all seen the meme’s on Facebook saying that the government needs to increase senior’s pensions, however, many fail to realize that this pension is based on YOUR contributions over your working years based on your salary. Your employer contributed to this amount as well. If you are self-employed, you paid both. If you take dividends, you won’t get that at all.

Here’s the experiment….

Can you live on $2275 per month? This includes everything. Mortgage or rent, cable, vehicles, groceries, cell phones, if you pay for it now, figure out the cost. Or pay your mortgage and then see if you can pay all your other bills and expenses with $2275 per month. If you can’t do it now, why do you expect yourself to do it later? If you can do it now, and if you have money left over, why are you not saving the extra? What kind of retirement do you want? I’m sure you don’t want to have one that is just scraping by.
Right now, I am reading Napoleon Hill “The Laws of Success in 16 Lessons”. I love Napoleon Hill. His books were written in the 1920’s and 1930’s but they are still as relevant today as they were back then. You can actually download this book for free, as well as “Think and Grow Rich”, another amazing book!

Napoleon Hill’s fourth law of success is the Habit of Saving. Everyone knows it has to be done. There really is no getting around it. In fact, because so few people have done it over the years, the government created the mandatory contributions into CPP so that people would have at least a little something in retirement. When you take a look at the $2275 per month for a couple, compare it with your existing monthly expenditures, it probably is very little compared to what you would like to have, or probably even need.
Do you have a habit of saving or a habit of spending?

Lots of people have this built in belief system that in order to accumulate wealth or financial freedom that they have to make more money first. Now in some instances that is definitely true, however, for the majority of people it’s not. Everyone has a lot of wants on their money list. Charlie Munger said, “It’s not greed that drives the world, but envy.” So much of our lives are spent in the “Keeping up with the Jones’” mentality. That’s envy.

Napoleon Hill actually gives people who are on a salary the following breakdown for how their budget should look:

Savings account – 20%
Living – Clothes, food and shelter – 50%
Education – 10%
Recreation – 10%
Life insurance – 10%

What he found was people’s budget’s actually looks like this:

Savings account – nothing
Living – Clothes, food and shelter – 60%
Education – 0%
Recreation – 35%
Life Insurance – 5%

I will be honest, it’s actually rare for people to spend 5% of their income on life insurance.

What should you do? A good reality check! Be honest with yourself and make this the year to create the habit of saving. Most people have the extra room in their budget, or could simply create the extra room, to save a few dollars and it adds up. In fact, according to Napoleon Hill, and I’m not going to doubt him as I have clients who do live by his principles and have accumulated substantial wealth, the more you save, the more you will end up earning, the more opportunities that will open up for you and the happier you will be.

Start small. Create some financial goals for yourself. How much debt do you want to pay off? How much money do you want to have saved? Wealth is not a one-time event. It doesn’t just happen. It has to become a habit.
Once you have a clear idea about what you want, prioritize it! There has never been a time in history that it is simpler to create good financial habits and yet so few people do because there has never been a time in history that it has been simpler to just spend money. You can have money go into savings automatically each and every paycheck without having to find the energy and time to do it. Ok, so initially you might have to find the energy and the time to get it set up, but if it’s important, you will do it. And then it’s simple from there.

And notice that I said SIMPLE, not EASY.

It’s not always easy. It might not be easy to take a look at spending habits and find that if you cut something out that you don’t really need in order to pay off that credit card bill faster, but it’s simple. It might not be easy to cancel the cable and put that extra hundred bucks a month into savings, but it’s simple. I mean, who has cable anymore anyways? And if one of your friends has it, go over to their house to watch that hockey game, it’s more fun that way.

Do something today that your future self will thank you for. It’s that simple!

I am looking for people who want to change their financial future, who want to have more than $2275 per month in retirement. Is that you? Let’s have a simple conversation about it today.

“O Divine Providence, I ask not for more riches but more wisdom with which to make wiser use of the riches you gave me at birth, consisting in the power to control and direct my own mind to whatever ends I might desire.” Napoleon Hill

New Year, New Decade, New Money

I love this time of year! My son is home for Christmas, which I think it might be the last year he comes home and I would rather go visit him where there is no snow, getting together with family and friends, but most of all, it’s a time for reflection on the past year and setting new goals for the new year.

I love setting goals and the bigger the better! A new year brings about new optimism, a chance to start fresh, and create new habits. Especially where money is concerned.

The TD Financial Health Index 2019, which was released at the end of October, had 3 overall findings (Bloomberg):
1. Earning power doesn’t automatically lead to better financial health
2. Canadians are reluctant to seek advice or even talk about money
3. Link between financial health and physical and mental well-being
As a Planner and dealing with many different business owners and people, I can honestly say that I come across these findings all the time.

Earning power doesn’t automatically lead to better financial health
And it doesn’t. I have clients come to me at all various stages in their life, making different amounts of money, with different financial issues. I have clients making $50,000 a year that have more accumulated wealth than people making $300,000 a year. It’s not uncommon for me to hear “I need to make more money first”. However, if you have money problems right now, making more money is just going to lead to more money problems, it’s actually a statistically proven fact. Making more money isn’t the solution, better money habits are the solution, and if you get good habits when you make less money, they will carry over when you make more money, and possibly get you to the point where money isn’t even a concern anymore.

Canadians are reluctant to seek advice or even talk about money
Once again, also true. Money is so personal. If there are financial troubles, people tend to think that they are the only one that has ever been in that situation before and they don’t want to tell anyone about it. As a Financial Planner, I have seen it all. Nothing surprises me. You won’t be the first person to have gone through your situation, and you won’t be the last. But sometimes the best solution is to learn how other people got out of that situation successfully instead of playing a guessing game.

Link between financial health and physical and mental well-being
There is actually a lot to this one, but overall, all 3 of these topics are related. Many Canadians are not confident that they are on the right track to meet their long-term financial goals and it can leave them financially vulnerable. Those who are financially vulnerable score lower on mental health measures. The financially vulnerable are more likely to manage their finances themselves, whereas the financially healthy are more likely to make use of financial advisors. This stuff is literally in the report, almost copied word for word, just in case you want to say I’m plagiarizing.

Now that you know what the main findings in the report are, and now that a new year and a new DECADE are upon us, what are some simple things you can do to get a better financial start? These might seem basic, simple and you know them already, however, according to the Financial Health Index, only a quarter of Canadians surveyed are financially healthy. That leaves almost 75% of people not doing some of these basic things.

1. Get a financial planner. Even the report says that people who are more financially healthy have one. It’s not always easy, I understand that, but good financial habits aren’t automatic. If they were, you would be extremely wealthy by now. There are so many tools and resources that financial planners have access to that you can’t necessarily do on your own. Plus, when you research financial info, it often comes up with ideas once you have money, not how to build it up efficiently and effectively. Also, on a behavioural standpoint, planners are known to protect people from themselves. With money having such an emotional component to it, we help manage those emotions.

2. Write out your financial goals for the year, for the next 3 years, the next 5 years, and also your big someday goals. It can include items you want to purchase, vacations you want to take, business income, asking for a raise, saving and investment goals, and debt reduction goals. Anything money related, write it down, and then write it down frequently. Don’t type it, don’t plug it into an app, physically write it. Writing it down helps it stay in our brain longer and the more often you do it, the more it helps you focus on the goal. Maybe you want to do it daily, or maybe it is a Sunday ritual that you want to create to help you get focused for Monday and the work week.

3. Become the CEO of your financial life. You need to run your financial life like a successful Fortune 500 company and not like the government. Track your income, track your spending, make plans and follow up on those plans regularly, look at financial strategies that help reduce taxes, give you financial security, and be prepared to analyze your finances and make some changes to get you to your goals faster. Just like businesses can’t operate without a business plan, you can’t operate your financial life without a financial plan. You need a plan to get to your goals.

Do this next decade financially better! At the end of the day, year, decade, it’s all up to you. Sure, a Financial Planner is going to help once you meet with one, but you have to take that step first. You will soon realize that your financial outcome has little to do with the economy, the markets, or how much money you make, but solely on you and your actions and habits.

While some advisors look for clients that have a certain amount of money, work in a certain profession, or own a certain type of business, I am looking for people who want to do what it takes to get where they want to go. Is that you? Or do you know someone who does? Let’s start the next decade off on a better foot together!

3 Popular Financial Tips that should be Thrown out the Window

These days we Google everything, including money tips. There are so many tips out there, the right way and wrong way, and then disputing each way….. it is confusing and it’s no wonder so many people are broke! How do you know what is the right advice?

Even as a Financial Planner I have to admit that a lot of my money views have changed over time the more financial courses I take, the more successful Planners I work with, and even the more wealthy clients I get to work with over the years. I have the advantage to pick their brains from their money lessons.

Here are 3 Financial Tips that I have thrown out the window and the alternatives that you can apply to your money instead:

1. Pay off your mortgage early

This is probably the worst piece of advice ever, with one exception, which I will explain in a bit.

Paying off your mortgage early is the number one finance tip from people like Dave Ramsey, his daughter, Rachel Cruz, or the FIRE community. They focus on the interest you will save over the long run by paying it off early. It makes sense….. However, there are two sides to this story.

First of all, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your house isn’t actually an investment. It is a lifestyle and a forced savings account. The value of your house will likely appreciate over time, not always, and it depends on when you bought and when you sell. Your house is not a liquid investment, meaning that if you have an emergency or want to go to Hawaii for a vacation, you can’t just draw money out of your house. You will get the money back when you sell it but you will still need a place to live once it is sold. With interest rates being as low as they are, take the extra money and invest it. This is even better advice if you are a business owner and look at interest rates versus tax rates.

Putting money into an investment will grow your money faster than your house. Plus, it’s liquid. If you need the cash, you can have the money out of your investments within a few business days.

The only time I recommend paying your mortgage off early is if you don’t qualify for life insurance. Why? Mortgage’s tend to be our biggest debt and if you pass away, your family is still obligated to pay that debt, or sell the house, which doesn’t happen over night. Not every one qualifies for life insurance. If you don’t – pay off your debts as fast as you can! And don’t buy the life insurance offered through your mortgage – it is not guaranteed to pay out!
2. Don’t buy Permanent Life Insurance

This is another one of Dave Ramsey’s favorite financial tips. Buy Term Life Insurance because it’s cheaper and invest the difference. The problem with this? 99% of people don’t invest the rest! The other problem with this? For the majority of Canadians, CPP and OAS are the biggest portion of a person’s retirement portfolio. If you are married and both you and your spouse rely on each other’s CPP and OAS income in retirement, when one of you dies, so does half of their CPP and all of their OAS benefit. Chances are, one of you will live longer. Chances also are that you will live past the age of 65 when the majority of Term Life Insurance policies expire or increase exponentially in premium making it unaffordable. You will likely outlive your Term Life Insurance, that’s why it’s cheap. That’s why you need a Permanent Policy.

Permanent Life Insurance has so many uses and wealthy people buy it all the time. The younger you are, the cheaper it is, so buy it early! It is an investment. The best thing about this investment is that earnings are typically around 6% and the lowest it will go is 0%. It is not volatile like other investments these days.

Permanent life insurance will replace your CPP and OAS for your spouse. They need that. You both do! Plus, it can be used for so many things. It is more expensive to buy, yes, but it is more versatile and has many more uses than most people realize.
3. Save for your child’s education with a RESP and avoid student loans

Don’t worry, I was once suckered into a RESP as well. They sound so good; they are so easy to sell – building hopes and dreams of what the future will bring for your child because now they can be anything they want to be – blah blah blah. We want the best for our kids and it’s an easy dream to sell.

Often a lot of people ask me what the fees are on their investments, but the funny thing is, they never ask what the fees on a RESP are. Does it really matter when you are getting “free” money from the Government for your child just for contributing? Yes, it does!

The reality is….. the fees are insanely high with a RESP to cover administration costs. If you have ever started one for your child you know how lengthy the whole application process is. I swear those things have a hundred pages! And every page costs you a lot of money because of all the different people that are involved to set it up and manage it over time. The positive side is that you are giving a few people a job and everyone deserves to earn an income, however, you are throwing away money that should go to your child instead. Or even to you.

What should you do? My best advice is to set up a Permanent Life Insurance policy for them. They earn more interest in the end because the administration costs are a lot less, plus your child can use it for so many other things than just school, like start a business. Or use your own TFSA to save the money. You will earn way more interest in the end.

On the flip side, student loans are not a bad thing! I used to think they were evil and that’s how I was so easily sold on a RESP for my son. They are tax deductible (RESP’s are taxable), they have a low interest rate and no interest while going to school. This is great if you use your TFSA to earn interest while they are going to school and then giving them some money towards their student loan when they are done. It is so much more flexible in the end than an RESP.

It’s not easy to find good financial advice and every person’s situation is different and requires a different plan. One size does not fit all! If you are struggling to find the right financial advice, I hope I can be the person to work through that with you.

3 Instant Wealth Hacks

Everyone has their own definition of wealth and being rich. Money is very personal and everyone has different goals, so it makes sense.

Here is a different definition of wealth for you: wealth is the total number of days that you can continue living your current lifestyle without having to work.

I use this definition with clients frequently. How many days is it for you?

When it comes to a full financial plan, it is very easy for me to help my clients create instant wealth. Now that I have your attention, I hope that you continue on reading to see how all of this works together.

To create instant wealth, you need to have 3 different policies. Disability Insurance, Critical Illness, and Life Insurance. Here is why they work to create instant wealth.

1. Disability insurance protects your income in the event you can’t work due to illness or injury (depending on the coverage you purchase). If you are an employee, you might have a limited form of disability through your employer, and if you are self employed, you definitely need this because WCB just won’t cut it. If you can’t work, your disability is going to kick in and you are going to receive an income, hence, instant wealth.
2. Critical Illness also protects your income if you were to get sick. Plus, depending on the illness, there are often a lot of expenses that people don’t think about until they have to pay for it. It can be expensive! Time of work, additional expenses, possibly a change in lifestyle. With this policy, you get a payout to help with those expenses, hence, instant wealth.
3. Life insurance can be used in a couple of different ways. It can be used as an investment account, which is great because this starts to build your wealth, tax free, until you have enough and don’t need Disability or Critical Illness. Or it can just be used as a wealth protector for your family in the event you pass away. I had someone tell me once that they didn’t need life insurance because they weren’t going to die. I’m not sure how they became immortal but I did immediately exit the conversation. I wasn’t sure if they were a vampire or something, and although being guaranteed a long life is awesome, I’m not sure about immortality and didn’t want to take the risk of being in the presence of an immortal for too long. It never ends well in books or movies so I wasn’t taking my chances.

With these policies set up and your financial security in place, I also set up some investments for you. This is to not only grow your wealth but to create another income stream and riches. The average “wealthy” or “rich” person has multiple income streams. I help my client create 3 different income streams, and then the rest is up to you. Actually, it’s all up to you, I just help facilitate it and help you get their faster and immediately.

These aren’t “get rich quick” schemes. I hate to tell you, there is no such thing. These are good financial wealth building habits, and the better your habits, the more your wealth will grow.

As the old saying goes, “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”, hopefully this changes the way you look at various financial planning strategies, what wealth means, and that you have the ability to control it all.

I am looking for people who want immediate wealth. Is that you? Or do you know someone who does? I would love to get together and talk about how I can help make that happen right away.

Going Broke Safely

The stock market is at an all time low for the number of investors. Before the Financial Meltdown in 2008, 62% of Americans were invested. Today, only 54% of Americans are invested in the stock market. That means that that 46% of people aren’t invested. Out of the 54% that are invested, the majority are just barely invested.
There are many reasons people don’t invest. For example, low income households are less likely to invest because they don’t have the free capital to do it. Other’s might not invest because they have a lot of debt and are more concerned about paying that down instead.
What about the rest of the people that aren’t investing?

They are going broke safely.
Fear is the biggest reason people don’t invest.
People are scared of another “crash” like 2008. While it’s hard to have your money in the stock market and watch it’s value go down, it is the best time to start buying! It’s just stocks going on sale. For most things in life – clothes, shoes, a new motorbike, a car – we try to find the best deal possible. For the stock market, we wait till it’s going up before we are comfortable investing. Even though there might be short periods in time when the stock market goes down, the stock market always goes up. There has never been a time in history that it hasn’t gone back up.
If you had of invested $10,000 in March 2009, today it would be worth $40,000.
In 2008, the majority of people were pulling their money out and trying to prevent losing any more. Those are the people that lost money. Their money wasn’t in the markets to recover. The few that started putting more money in, those are the people that made a lot!
The best thing that could happen in the next few years is another crash. It’s going to hurt watching your money that is in there. But with a good mindset and a steady strategy of investing more, that is when you will be able to catch up and get ahead.
The most recent example is at the end of 2018 and the markets went down. For my clients that kept their investment strategy going, they have earned 10%. For people that didn’t buy more, they are at a break even point now.
Not investing has far more negative consequences than investing:
– If you hold your money in bank investments, earning only 1 to 2% per year, you are losing money to inflation which is running about 2 to 3% per year. You are actually losing money, and this is what I call going broke safely.
– If you aren’t investing because you are concerned about paying off debt, you might still have debt in 10 years and still not have any money. I love putting together a good debt/investment strategy! Debt can be a “lifestyle” when taken care of and used properly. Sounds completely contradictory to everything most of you have been taught, but it’s true!
– If you don’t invest, you will still be no better off financially in 10, 20, 30 years from now. Don’t you want something to show for all your hard work?
Now that you know a few of the downsides and that not investing is the equivalent of going broke safely, there is no better time than right now to get started. Markets will always go up. As of this moment, you are actually buying them on sale. If debt is holding you back, there is a plan for that. If lack of additional funds is an issue, there could be a plan for that too. If fear is a problem, well there is some protection from the downside that I often set up but the only fear there should be is not investing. Let’s grab a coffee and discuss a plan for you!