J Dobbelsteyn

Information is everywhere — but is it reliable?

You can get it if you want it — everywhere! Information, that is. And these days, many consumers turn to social media and other electronic sources for information and guidance. But are Twitter, Facebook, blogs and websites the best places to get what you need?

Uncover your ‘hidden’ investment dollars

Day-to-day living is costly. Gas, groceries, home expenses, the kids, taxes, a workday coffee or lunch — it all costs and it all adds up, making it very difficult to set aside money for investing.

Your cottage and the principal residence exemption

Through the principal residence exemption, your home is just about the only investment you can profit from without paying a cent in taxes. The Income Tax Act allows this exemption on any housing unit that you, your spouse or common law partner or your children lived in during the year – and that can include a unit in a condo or apartment building, or even a cottage, mobile home or houseboat.

Gradual changes to Canada Pension Plan are coming

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is changing in gradual phases between 2011 and 2016, with the first big change beginning in 2011.

Look long and hard at mortgage insurance

Home is not only where the heart is — it’s also the largest single debt for most Canadians. But that’s OK, because your home is the centre of your family’s life. That’s why you should look long and hard at mortgage insurance.

What happens to RESP funds when your child doesn’t go to post-secondary school?

So, what happens to all the money you’ve so diligently contributed to your children’s Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) if they decide not to pursue a post-secondary education? The answer: you can use the funds for other purposes as long as you follow certain rules.

How well do you know the investment and health benefits plans sponsored by your employer?

You probably keep a close eye on your regular income, RRSP and other personal investments, but what about the investment and health benefits plans sponsored by your employer? They provide valuable insurance coverage and an important source of retirement income — but do you really know enough about them — what you are and are not covered for; if there are gaps in your coverage that need to be filled; or even if you are paying for coverage you may not need?

An education can be expensive — here’s how your RESP can help

In a few short weeks, your child or grandchild may be heading off to university or college for the first time. An education can be expensive — and that RESP you started so many years ago is about to pay off.

Our insurance needs change as our lives and our financial goals change

Change can be tough but we live with it every day. We age; our working, personal and family life changes. Our financial goals and expectations change. And as these things change so does our need for insurance.

Start planning now for a debt-free Christmas

It is more likely that you are planning your summer vacation than having started your Christmas shopping — but by getting going right now on some early Yule holiday financial planning, you can give yourself the gift of a debt-free Christmas.

A summer job is a great chance to teach life lessons in income management

A teen's first summer job is a great time for life lessons in income management. Money management is an important life lesson everybody needs to learn and, with your teen about to enjoy a regular payday for the first time, you have the perfect window of opportunity to pass along some good information that will put them on the fast track to future financial success

How you live your life can impact the cost and availability of life insurance

As part of your financial plan, as part of your estate plan, as essential protection for your family – any way you look at it, life insurance is important. But do you know that how you live your life can have an impact on the cost and availability of insurance?

Are you ready for retirement?

You’ve thought about it for years – the day you move into retirement. But now that ‘the day’ is just around the corner, you may be having other thoughts. Have you done everything you can to prepare for that day? Are there important things left undone? Let’s relieve the stress right now with a review of retirement basics.

Who should consider a domestic contract?

These days, it seems we often read about high-profile couples who have entered into "domestic contracts" — also known as prenuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements or marital agreements.

The alphabet soup of retirement

There are the ABCs of retirement – Always Be (financially) Comfortable – and then there’s RRIF, LIF, SWP, GIF, LIB and more … an alphabet soup of acronyms and abbreviations that every retiree must wade through. What do they all mean?

Ask yourself how much home you can really afford

Any way you look at it, buying a home is an investment. Buying a home raises a lot of questions – and the key question is always: How much home can you really afford?

Most Canadians are approaching Tax Freedom Day

Tax Freedom Day is the day of the year when most Canadians finally start working for themselves after paying their total tax bill to all levels of government. It occurs either in late May or early June, depending on where you live. Maybe you feel like you’ve missed the party this year but with some smart tax and financial planning, you won’t miss the celebration next year.

Round out your personal RESP education

A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is a great way to save for a child’s post-secondary education. But how you or the student beneficiary accesses those funds, what the money can be used for, and/or transferring an existing RESP to another beneficiary can be complicated.

Diversified investment portfolio can help buffer market turbulence

Market experts agree, and decades of investment experience has proven, that a diversified investment portfolio through effective asset allocation is the best way for investors to achieve the long term goals of their overall financial plan — and equities (including equity mutual funds) play a key role in achieving the highest returns for a given level of risk.

Start investing early

It’s always profitable to start investing early and developing good financial habits. That way, you’ll have more options for how you want to live your life from here to retirement … and beyond.