Monthly Archives: December 2017

Health is true Wealth: How to choose the right diet

Diets! There are so many of them to choose from! How do you decide which one is right for you? There is no single, without-a-doubt best diet for every person to follow, always and forever. While you may feel like a particular nutrition idea – such as paleo or ketogenic – works for you, it doesn’t mean everyone else should follow the same program.

The human body can survive and thrive on a host of different nutritional conditions, which is clearly demonstrated by the traditional diets of various ethnic groups throughout the world. While there are huge differences in the common diets out there, they can all raise nutritional awareness and attention, they focus on food quality, they help eliminate nutrient deficiencies and they help control appetite and food intake.

The best diet is the one that works for you and takes into account your physical and biochemical differences, as well as your lifestyle such as family, life demands, work situation, income level, cooking experience and food availability. Before jumping onto the next fad diet train, take the time to research what the diet entails, what the pros and cons of the diet are and really think about why you want to consider following a restrictive diet in the first place.

Let’s take a look at some of the more common diets:

THE KETOGENIC DIET

In the early 1920s, the Ketogenic diet was used in experiments on children with epilepsy. By the 1940s the Ketogenic diet made its way into medical textbooks as a treatment for childhood epilepsy.

The Ketogenic diet is a high fat, extremely low carbohydrate diet. A typical balanced meal is about 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrates and 30 percent fat. A Paleo meal would have about 40 percent protein, 20 percent carbohydrates and 40 percent fat. Ketogenic, on the other hand, is 20 percent protein, 5 percent carbohydrates and 75 percent fat.

Just how little is 5 percent carbohydrate? It’s about the equivalent of eating 10-15 grapes for the whole day. Indeed, the Ketogenic diet is the most restrictive and limited style of eating. However on the ketogenic diet, one can typically eat unlimited greens without going over the daily carbohydrate intake. For particular groups of people, ketosis is helpful, but for other people it can actually be harmful. For many populations ketosis has little to no effect, and is much too hard of a diet to follow consistently. Ketosis should not be used to try and cure ailments, it should not be used to randomly “get healthy” and should be done under close medical supervision for a specific objective.

In particular, the Ketogenic diet has probable benefits for those with metabolic diseases, neurodegeneration and brain injuries.

I have been eating a ketogenic diet for a year now – mainly to reduce inflammation and to prevent cancer re-occurrence. I do feel excellent on this diet – heaps of good, even energy all day, great focus and mental clarity, and great sleeps. I will be writing more extensively on this way of eating down the road.

If you have a specific health problem that a Ketogenic diet may help with, consult your doctor first and carefully monitor and track dietary modifications.

For Ketogenic recipes, I recommend a cook book written by Patricia Daly and Domini Kemp called The Ketogenic Kitchen. Continue Reading…

5 sensible steps to improve your 2018 game plan

“Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you.”
—Frank Tyger (1929–2011), cartoonist, columnist and humourist

Designing the investment plan for the long haul requires much serious thought. Unfortunately, investors shortchange themselves on two fronts. Firstly, they spend far too much time selecting investments. Secondly, and more important, they spend too little time researching and establishing their investment policies and strategies. The ones that the plans should put into effect to reach personal goals.

In my experience, few investors actually have a sensible game plan that is being followed. Too often, this results in a collection of “flavour of the day” investment selections. Designing the appropriate investment plan is essential, particularly the asset mix targets.

“Understanding the major investment risk factors brings perspective to the plan. The ability, willingness and need to take risks are your top three.”

Happily, this situation is easy to rectify. A new year is about to make its grand entrance. Let us take a breather to contemplate a few improvements.

Stewarding the finances is truly a long journey. If you were my client, I would start with this question, “What is important about investing to your family in 2018 and beyond?

My observation is that many investors opt for preservation of capital. Others focus on portfolio growth. The rest concentrate on the retirement income stream. Lifestyle needs are also high on the pecking order.

I touch on a handful of key steps in designing your game plan:

1.) Retirement prospects

Determine the family’s desired retirement income goal in today’s dollars. Calculate the size of portfolio to reach and sustain the goal. This provides portfolio direction and purpose. Estimate the personal rate of return required to achieve the retirement nest egg ballpark. Then treat that rate of return as the “investment benchmark” for the game plan.

Once the personal rate of return is identified, there is likely no need to incur higher investment risk than necessary. This is especially important to retired investors. Consider all the investment accounts owned as part of the big picture, not in isolation. Revisiting your “asset location” best practices helps fine tune the game plan.

2.) Investor profile

Analyze which type of investor profile suits and feels best. The most familiar ones are labeled as preservation, income, balanced, growth and aggressive. In my experience, investor profiles change infrequently.

The majority of investors are comfortable within 40% to 60% allocated to stocks and the remainder to cash and bond selections. For example, a balanced profile typically allocates about 50% to stocks, 40% to bonds and 10% to cash instruments.

3.) Asset mix 

Asset mix decisions have the greatest impact on portfolio outcomes than any other factor. Studies show that these decisions explain a substantial amount of variations in total portfolio returns. Continue Reading…

Advanced RRSP Strategies (Beyond the Basics)

RRSPs are a valuable tool for many taxpayers, which is why they are the backbone of many retirement plans. Getting the most out of your RRSP often involves thinking several years ahead, rather than just when the contribution deadline is looming.

Here are five RRSP strategies to get you thinking beyond the basics:

Claiming RRSP deductions

Most of us claim our RRSP deductions in the tax year we make the contribution, but you don’t have to. In fact, you can choose to deduct only a portion or none at all and carry it forward.

If you expect to move into a higher tax bracket next year from say, a big promotion, or the sale of rental property, you should still make your contribution to take advantage of tax-free compounding. But, it may be worth waiting to claim the deduction the next year (or later) when your marginal rate will be higher and you will get a substantially bigger tax refund.

Level out income

Continue Reading…

How to build a sound and profitable Retirement portfolio

By Patrick McKeough, TSINetwork.ca

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

To decide if an investment belongs in your portfolio for retirement, you need to take a close look at its attributes or features. But, just as important, you need a close look at how well the investment suits your needs. A superficial look can steer you in the wrong direction.

From time to time, for instance, investors say “Now that I’m retired, I can’t invest in stocks any more. I can’t risk a 30% to 40% drop in the value of my portfolio.” But these same investors may buy annuities without considering the fact that annuity rates are related to bond yields. Both are at historically low levels. A revival of inflation could do extraordinary damage to the purchasing power you get from the fixed returns on bonds or annuities.

Retirement planning and four key factors to consider when investing for retirement

Retirement planning is the process of setting retirement goals, estimating the income needed to meet those goals and assessing your potential sources of retirement income. These days, more investors suffer from what you might call “pre-retirement financial stress syndrome.” That’s the malady that strikes when it dawns on you that you don’t have enough money saved to be able to earn the retirement income stream you were banking on. The best way to overcome this is with sound investing.

Additionally, here are four key factors to consider for retirement saving:

  • How much you expect to save prior to retirement;
  • The return you expect on your savings;
  • How much of that return you’ll have left after taxes;
  • How much retirement income you’ll need once you’ve left the workforce.

Should you consider investment products in your portfolio for retirement?

The financial industry has created income-producing investment products to cater to investors who are wary of stock-market uncertainty. These products can provide steady income that’s higher than bond interest, or dividend yields from stocks. However, these products are almost always subject to hidden fees and risks that continually drain your capital, or leave it vulnerable to unexpected losses.

Successful investors understand that occasional market plunges are normal and unavoidable. A drop of 30% to 40% in stock prices is rare. But after the plunge ends, stocks bounce back and eventually recover. Meanwhile, if you follow our Successful Investor approach, you’ll still have dividend income. What’s more, you don’t need to (and probably won’t) sell at the low in prices.

You can maintain reserves for your cash flow needs by selling some stocks every year, during times of high and low prices.

Continue Reading…

End the year with your taxes in order

By Lisa Gittens, H&R Block

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

At this time of year, you’re likely occupied with decorating for the holidays, cooking an abundance of food for family, and selecting gifts for your Secret Santa exchange. Amidst the placing of ornaments, stringing of lights and baking of cookies, taxes are probably the last thing on your mind: they’re something you’ll think about next year, when you’re reminded it’s officially tax season.

But, believe it or not, the end of a calendar year is the perfect time to review the current state of your filing and get your taxes in order before flipping the page to 2018. To help you do just that, H&R Block offers these tips:

Agendas make great friends

Treat yourself to the gift that keeps on giving: an agenda. With this new friend in tow, you can take advantage of sporadic free time and update it with all relevant tax-related dates so they don’t sneak up on you in 2018. Examples of entries you’d want to include are: February 26, 2018, which marks the day the Canadian Revenue Agency officially opens.

(As a side note, this is actually the latest opening in Canadian history and means Canadians will have a shorter window to file taxes.) April 30, 2018 is another date to keep in mind: it’s the deadline for filing 2017 personal tax returns. (If you’re self-employed, the deadline is June 15, 2018.)

Organization is in style

Hopefully you’ve been saving bills, tuition receipts, transit passes, charitable contribution receipts, health expenses, and other key tax documents this year. When it comes to your tax return, it literally pays (in the form of a tax return!) to retain and organize these documents. Like agendas, accordion-style folders with tabs to separate by category are great gifts to yourself. Just ensure you keep it in reach — and out of harm’s way — so you’ll be more motivated to use it throughout the year. Continue Reading…