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Time to Manage Your Cash Flow

By admin, 1 days Ago | 0 comment

In light of everything that’s going on in the world right now, I thought there was no better time to write about managing your cash flow. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians have lost their jobs and income over the last few weeks, and they’re scrambling. This is not good. And from what I’m seeing, I think this is going to be a wakeup call for a lot of people. I wish things didn’t have to be this way, but this should be a learning lesson that money is not infinite. It comes and goes. But when it comes, it’s important to manage the crap out of it, and set yourself up for anything that may come.

I find it fascinating (and also scary) that a number of Canadians couldn’t financially support themselves until the end of the month. The amount of calls that the big five banks have received in regard to mortgage deferrals is incredible. Almost 300,000 as of today (April 4, 2020). And the number of people who couldn’t pay their rent on April 1 was through the roof (I’m sure).

However, regardless of where everyone is right now in their financial situation, it’s important to take a step back, look at what you do have, and stretch your dollars as far as you possibly can. Here’s a step by step breakdown on how to approach the next few months. More on managing cash flow in weeks to come, but here’s where to start.  

  1. Sit down and organize your finances. Take a look at your deposit and investment accounts (or look at your Net Worth Tracker if you have one), and understand which accounts are easy to take money from, and which ones aren’t worth touching right now. Write down the total amount of money that you have in all of these accounts.
  1. Figure out how much income you have coming in every month. If you had to apply for EI, or will be applying to any government assistance programs, write down these amounts. If you have other income from other sources, include those as well. I don’t care if it’s a few dollars here and there – every dollar counts.
  1. Print out the last 3-6 months of your credit and debit statements and add up the averages in each category that applies to your spending. Figure out what you spend on a monthly basis. Write it down somewhere.
    1. Fixed Expenses don’t change on a monthly basis (rent/mortgage, insurance premiums, bank fees, etc).
    2. Variable Expenses change every month (grocery bills, dining out, utility bills, etc).
    3. Irregular Expenses are those expenses that happen infrequently (holidays, vacations, car maintenance, annual membership fees, etc).
  1. Analyze. On a monthly average, are you spending more than you currently make? If you are, it means that you have some serious cutting back to do. You have to rework your numbers and completely change your lifestyle around for the time being (and maybe for a little while after that if you didn’t have an emergency account). On top of that, once you have your monthly expenses figured out, does the money in your accounts from Step 1 cover those expenses for the next 3-6 months? Example: if you spend $3000/month on average on everything, do you have $9000-$18,000 sitting somewhere that you can live off of?

Just remember that what we are going through is not permanent. There are going to be sunnier days, and hopefully, we’ve all taken something away from this. There are lessons to be learned, and mindsets to shift. There is no better time than now to actively start learning about personal finance because of how important of a role that it plays in our society.

If you're interested in learning more, please take a look at our website and find some upcoming webinars. www.enrichedacademy.com

How Will COVID19 Impact Your Finances?

By admin, 19 days Ago | 0 comment

Unless you've been living under a rock within the last week, or have completely shut yourself out from the outside world, you've probably heard that a majority of the services, restaurants, schools, and a majority of Canada, has seen a drastic shift due to COVID19. 

So - what does this mean for your finances? A lot. No need to panic, but it's very important that you grab this bull by the horns and understand how this shut-down will affect the economy.

I'm hoping though, with a little bit more information and education through this blog post, that I'll be able to give you a few tips and exercises that I urge you to do NOW to ensure you can stretch your dollars as far as possible. 

1. Figure out your Net Worth: the best thing to do right now is to sit down and organize all of your finances. What are the values of the assets that you have? Where are they? How easy are they to liquidate? Now, take a look at your liabilities. What do you owe? What are the interest rates?

2. Once you've gotten pretty organized with what you own (assets), and what you owe (liabilities), it's time to look at your cash flow. I suggest (now that we all have some extra time at home), that you print out the last 3-6 months of your credit card and debit transactions, and get real with your spending in as much detail as possible. I want you to figure out what you spend on housing, services, interest rates on outstanding debts, transportation, etc. When you add it all up, what do you spend on a monthly basis? 

3. Time to cut back. There are always ways to cut back in your spending, and there's no better time to do it than now. Restaurants are closed, your favourite coffee shop is cutting back on tables and chairs to socialize at, and we're being told to stay at home. Listen to this advice. It will not only keep you healthy, but it will keep your wallet healthy as well. Take this opportunity to only spend money on the absolute essentials; your mortgage/rent, groceries, monthly services such as internet and cell phone, insurance premiums etc. Nobody knows what the future holds, but it's important that we understand our cash flow as best as we can now so that we can understand how long our savings and assets can sustain us. 

I really wish I had a crystal ball and could tell you when this will all be over. Unfortunately, I can't. But what I can do is urge you to take action with your finances now. Nobody knows what will happen next week, next month, or next year, but let this be a wake-up call for all of us. Make sure that you're always saving for a rainy day, putting money into your emergency fund, and spending less than what you make. Your finances are always evolving and will continue to do so throughout your lifetime. What you do with those finances, at the end of the day, is really what matters. 

Be smart. And stay healthy. 

It's Time To Talk...about the TFSA

By admin, 56 days Ago | 0 comment

A what?

A Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) is a Registered Investment Account that has a whack-load of financial benefits. Want to know why I bolded and underlined the word investment? Because this account will benefit you the most when you hold investments in it, and not use it as a day-to-day savings account. 

Here are some of the main benefits of the TFSA and why you should open one (and use it) right now.  

The Benefits of the TFSA:

  • Any income that you make from investments within this account is tax-free (hence the name). This means that you don't have to claim any income you've made from your investments on your tax return at the end of the year. I'm talking about free investment income here people.

    • Let's take an example - shall we?: Mary Lou Cannary contributed $10,000 into her TFSA on January 1, 2019, and invested it into the S&P500 ETF (VFV). In all of 2019, VFV made a whopping 25.13% return. WEO. What does this mean for Mary Lou Cannary at the end of the year? Well, her investment of $10,000 now has a current market value of $12,513 as of December 31, 2019. Now, because she invested this money within her TFSA, she could withdraw her investment income of $2,513 without paying a gosh-darn penny of income tax. Pretty neat huh? 

  • You can contribute to your TFSA from the age of 18 and do not need a job to open one (unlike the RRSP). The contribution limits change every year, based on inflation (mostly). As of January 1, 2020 you can contribute up to $69,500. If you're unsure of what your contribution room is, you can sign onto your CRA My Account for Individuals and find out. 

    • If you don't have a CRA My Account for Individuals, you should get one. Sign up here

  • The money that you contribute to your TFSA is used with after-tax dollars so there are no taxes to be paid when you with withdraw the funds, making the TFSA a relatively liquid investment account (depending on the investment holdings within the account itself). This is a great account to use if you're needing money on a short or long-term basis; travelling, getting married, downpayment on a house, sending the little ones off to school, beefing up retirement income, etc.

What the TFSA is not:

  • It is NOT a type of investment (contrary to some peoples' belief). You cannot purchase a TFSA. It is an account that is registered with the CRA which has tax benefits to it. Don't just put money into your account and have it sitting there. The whole point is to have your money working for you by investing it in either stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETF's, Reits etc. 

  • It should not be used as an everyday bank account. Although you can deposit and withdraw into your account when you want, there are some rules surrounding this so make sure you understand them. The CRA really breaks that down here.

    • When I first started investing in my TFSA, I made the mistake of not understanding the rules (because I was an 18year old and nobody was there to teach me). Unfortunately, I was taxed by the CRA and had to pay a big chunk of money ($300 buckaroos!). I don't want this happening to you so make sure you know your limits, and play within it. (See what I did there?)

Where Can My TFSA Be Held?

  • At a financial institution of your choice. Your financial advisor will be able to open up a TFSA for you where they actively manage it (just be aware of the fees that you may be incurring as these can sometimes be hidden). 

  • With a Robo-Advisor. This is a great option for those who are trying to get away from the bigger financial institutions, want lower fees, and are big believers in ETFs. 

  • You can Self-Direct it. I do this. And I love it. Low fees, freedom to choose the investments I want, and the money that I make within my TFSA are completely made due to my efforts.

Conclusion?

If you've already opened a TFSA and have investments sitting within your account, you're doing good things (so long as your investments are making money). If you have a TFSA, have money sitting in one of those "high-interest savings accounts",  and you're not needing that money any time soon, you may want to rethink your strategy.  

If you haven't opened one yet, get out there and open one up today. You'll be happy you did. And if you're still somewhat confused, scared, excited, nervous, and potentially need some one-on-one coaching, contact us for information on our coaching program

Happy 2020. It's time to crush some financial goals.

By admin, 77 days Ago | 0 comment

Happy New Year to you. And you. And you and you and you. 

I don't know about you, but I LOVE January 1. 

Why do you ask?

It's the first day of the year when there is not much else to do except set myself up for financial success for the year ahead. 

Our finances are always changing. Every. Single. Day. And it's important to evolve and change along with our finances and ensure that we're adapting as our circumstances change. 

Here are the top 3 things that I accomplished on January 1.

1. I updated my Net Worth Tracker. I love a good Net Worth tracker. It allows me to analyze and understand where all of my finances are, and how they've improved over the last year. 

2. I filled out the Financial Freedom calculator. Every year, I fill out a calculator that determines how much I need to save for the year ahead in order to reach financial freedom. I also use the CRA retirement calculator, which helps me determine what kind of CPP and OAS I'll be receiving when I hit a certain age. You can find that calculator here. https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/publicpensions/cpp/retirement-income-calculator.html. Once I've figured out my CPP and OAS income, then I can go back and fill in the rest. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Once I have my Financial Freedom number, it's time for me to set up my financial plan. 

3. Go through my budget and understand my cash flow for the year ahead. We all have financial goals. We also all have expenses. It doesn't matter if we work or not, at the end of the day, it costs money to live, and it's important that we understand our expenses on a monthly basis. Personally, this is a big year for me. I just bought a car, I'm going on a trip to Belize in March, and I'm getting married in August. There are a lot of expenses coming up, but I'm not worried. I have a solid understanding of my expenses for the year ahead, and I will have to change my lifestyle for a few months so I can accommodate all of those upcoming expenses. I track every single dollar that I have coming in, and every dollar coming out. I know that most people brush this idea of a budget aside, but what better way to manage your finances than to track it? 

So before you spend another day heading into work, I suggest sitting down and doing some of the above. It will not only help relieve some of the financial stress that you may be facing, but it will help put your finances into perspective and will allow you to focus on what's a priority. 

OH EM GEE - What's With All the Bank Fees?

By admin, 151 days Ago | 0 comment

People. Let me bring you up to speed here. Are you still paying the big banks to take out your hard-earned money? How often do you really use a bank teller anymore? You're probably using the ATM and doing most of your banking online, right? And you're still paying monthly bank fees for a Chequing account?

The thought of all of this craziness makes me feel like this...YOU'RE NOT ALONESince launching The Budget Babes back in January; I've had just over 45 consultations and see the same pattern over and over again. People are spending a lot of money on their daily banking fees! Almost 95% of my clients have some kind of monthly fee that they pay without thinking twice about it. And if you do the math, you'll find that you're spending a lot every year. Are your bank fees worth it? If they are, then keep on banking. But if you find that your bank isn't doing that much for you, maybe it's worth making the switch to a no-fee bank account like PC Financial, Tangerine, EQ Bank or a Credit Union of your choice.

2017 COMPARISON OF BANK FEES
TD CANADA TRUST : 
The TD Minimum Chequing account will cost $3.95/month but can be waived if you keep $2000 or more in your account at the end of each day in the month. You'll get 12 transactions per month ($1.25/each for additional transactions), and access to their online/telephone banking. TD also offers an Every Day Chequing account for $10.95/month. This gives you 25 transactions (anything over is $1.25/transaction), free Interac e-transfers and access to their online/telephone banking. TD will waive this $10.95 fee if you keep $3000 or more in your account at the end of each day in the month.  CIBC: Their Everyday Chequing account is $3.90/month. This gives you 12 free transactions (anything over that limit is $1.25/transaction), access to their online/telephone banking, and, well.... that's pretty much it. They also have a Smart Account that is more flexible and charges you based on the number of transactions you make. You could pay as low as $4.95/month up to $14.95/month. This account gives you unlimited transactions, unlimited Interac e-transfers and access to their online service. CIBC will waive this fee if you keep $3000 or more in your account, and you make a recurring transaction or 2 pre-authorized payments each month.

 RBC:
Charges for RBC's Day to Day bank account is $4.00/month. This gives you 12 free transactions (anything over is $1.00/transaction), access to their online/telephone banking, and unlimited Interac e-transfers. They also have a No Limit Banking account for $10.95/month which gives you unlimited transactions, unlimited Interac e-transfers, and access to their online/mobile service.  SCOTIABANK: With fees starting at $3.95/month, Scotiabank's Basic Bank account gives you 12 free transactions (anything over is $1.25/transaction), 2 free Interac e-transfers, access to their online/telephone banking, and you'll earn SCENE rewards. Their Basic Plan is $10.95/month which includes 25 transactions ($1.25/transaction after you've used the 25), 2 free Interac e-transfers, you'll earn SCENE rewards, and they'll waive the $10.95 fee if you keep $3000 minimum as a closing balance after each day. And of course, you receive access to their mobile and online banking.

BMO: 
BMO's Practical Plan will give you 12 free transaction (anything over is $1.25/transaction) at a cost of $4.00/month which they waive if you keep a minimum of $2000 in your account at the end of each day. You'll receive unlimited Interac e-transfers, and of course, access to their telephone/online banking. Their Plus Plan will run you $10.95/month which will be waived with a minimum balance of $3000 in your account. This plan allows you 30 transactions, unlimited Interac e-transfers, and telephone/online banking.

Conclusion:
 Do the math! How much are you spending on bank fees? $50/year? $180/year? It really adds up quick and this is for most basic banking plans! There are still premium/small business plans that are offered. Keep in mind that the above information doesn't even include overdraft protection, the cost of paper statements, cheques, and the charges that apply when using a different branded bank machine. The big banks are making billions of dollars every year. Although it's not all from bank fees, it's definitely helping with some profits. Do you need some help getting your personal finances under control? Contact me for a budgeting consultation! Bank fees are one of many tips that I often give to my clients to save money over the long term, but there are so many more tips that I'd love to share with you.

Want to Increase Your Tax Return? Reduce Your Tax Bill? Open an RRSP!

By admin, 151 days Ago | 0 comment

People. Let me get real with you for a second. Tax season is upon us, and there is this magical unicorn of an account in Canada called an RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan). It will help you reduce the amount of tax that you owe the government, and/or increase your tax return. Interested? I thought you'd be! I just maxed out my RRSP before the March 1, 2018, deadline. So get on it, open your account, and start contributing!

"BUT ALANNA, I DON'T KNOW WHAT AN RRSP IS?"
Funny you should say that out loud! I had an infographic created last year about the RRSP. Note that the date on the infographic is for 2017 and this years' deadline is March 1, 2018!) And if you're like, "Alanna, I don't want to look at this cool and helpful infographic you had made for your readers", then read on Donkey Kong.

What is an RRSP and why should I have one?
A registered retirement savings plan is an account that will help you save for a happy and financially stress-free retirement. Want to live on a boat in the middle of the ocean, scuba diving all day, surrounded by Great White Sharks? Yes. Please. Mountain climb in the middle of Vancouver Island feeding freshly caught salmon to Grizzly bears every day? Fuck, yes - who wouldn't? The RRSP will help you achieve your dream retirement, but you need to start right NOW. There are two main reasons why:
1. The money that you contribute to your RRSP is deductible from your taxable income.
Um.... what?
Example time! Say you made $40,000 in 2017, and contribute $3000 to your RRSP. When it comes time to file your taxes, you can claim that $3,000 contribution as a deduction and can calculate your income as if you’ve made $37,000. This will likely put you in a lower tax bracket, saving you money and/or increasing your tax return. Cool, huh?
Yes. Yes, it is cool.
2. The savings in your RRSP are able to grow tax-free. Within your RRSP you can invest in stocks, mutual funds, ETF's, bonds, and other investments. If you make profits from these investments, they are not taxable until you withdraw the funds, which ideally occurs when you retire. And when you retire and have very little income, you will be in a lower tax bracket than you are now (hopefully), and will have to pay less tax on your withdrawals. Kapeesh?
YAS QUEEN.
sweet BOULDER HOLDERS. how do I start?
You can set up a managed RRSP through a Robo-Advisor like Wealthsimple (which helps to reduce your MER fees, rebalance your portfolio, and is just all around awesome), or you can open one up through your bank, credit union, trust, or insurance company. You can also have your RRSP self-directed, and manage it all on your own (that's what I do!) However, if you'd like to go that route, I'd suggest contacting me for more information on how to do this.
I'm sold! But I need some more facts.

• If you work and file an income tax return, are under 71 years old, and have a social insurance number, you should definitely consider opening up an RRSP. • Your RRSP contribution room changes every year, and is calculated based on the following: ◦ 18% of your earned income from the previous year, with a maximum of $26,230 for the 2017 tax year;
◦ Whatever remaining amount is available after any company contributes to your RRSP. If your company contributes 10% of your earned income from the previous year, you can only contribute the remaining 8%.
• You can withdraw up to $25,000 for a down payment on your first home, and not pay any tax under the Home Buyer’s Plan. However, you have up to 15 years to repay the full amount back into your RRSP. • Wanna go back and hit the books? You can withdraw up to $10,000/year, or up to $20,000 in total to help pay for your education using the Lifelong Learning Plan. All you have to do is repay at least 10%/year for up to ten years.
• It isn’t mandatory that you deduct your RRSP contribution on your tax return in the same year that you made the contribution. You can hold off and deduct it in a future year if you think you will be making more money down the road. So, if you have room in your RRSP and just want it generating some kind of income through an investment, you can just leave it in your RRSP and let that shit grow. Yay compound interest!
• You can set up a spousal/common-law RRSP, which you can contribute to, but your common-law partner/spouse owns. This reduces their taxable income with your help.

RRSP vs TFSA - CONCLUSION
The RRSP and TFSA are great accounts for all Canadians and you should definitely consider opening up one or both of them, and start contributing ASAP. Depending on your financial situation and short/long-term goals, one account may be more beneficial than the other. If you are only making $25,000/year and are in a low tax bracket, you'd probably be better off with a TFSA. But let’s say you get a raise and go from making $25,000/year to $60,000/year, it would probably be worth contributing to your RRSP to put yourself into a lower tax bracket, saving you some money at the end of the year.

So there you have it! Everything you needed to know about the RRSP. If you're still hella confused and need some more guidance, please contact me! I've helped over 100 millennials and Gen-Y'ers figure out what's best for them and how to get started - and I can help you too!
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