All posts by Financial Independence Hub

How Millennials’ financial priorities differ from previous generations

By Gabby Revel

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

There is some truth and some fiction to the idea that millennials are not responsible with their finances. On the one hand, today’s youth is particularly adept at saving money and meeting their financial responsibilities on a monthly basis. However, millennials appear to have less foresight, as they’re not as interested in planning for their financial future as Generation Xers and Baby Boomers were.

Financial freedom

The most important element of a paycheck for millennials is the financial freedom it offers them. A study by Bank of America and Merrill Edge discovered that this generation is better at saving money compared to other generations, but what they choose to spend this money on differs greatly from older workers.

This same study discovered that 63% of millennials value financial freedom above all, meaning they set aside a certain amount of money to continue living their lifestyle of choice. This means planning for social trips or vacations, eating out at fancy brunch restaurants on Sundays and using Uber as one of their primary forms of transportation.

A survey by BMO Wealth Management found that 26% of millennials  —  ages 18 to 34 — believe “saving more” is their most important priority with finances. A further 25% value reducing and eliminating debt at the top of their list, while 20% want to invest effectively, 17% focus on budgeting and 5% believe in spending on personal needs or goals above all. All in all, millennials are reinventing the wheel in regards to where their finances should go, but they might pay the price moving forward.

Disregard for retirement

 A chunk of today’s youth has yet to begin planning for retirement, as they’re not thinking about what their needs will be in the future. Some believe Social Security (or in Canada CPP/OAS) will get them through their golden years, which only nets the average retiree about $1,300 per month nowadays. Others buy into the carpe diem or YOLO mentality that’s been instilled within millennials.

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10 ways to spot investment opportunities before the herd piles in

By Dakota Findley

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

If you learn how to spot investment opportunities early, you could significantly increase the profits you make. Fortunately, doing this isn’t as hard as many people believe. Here are the ten essential components of spotting investment opportunities before everyone else jumps on the bandwagon.

1.) Find a Problem Solver

In 2009, Professor Raffi Amit of the University of Wisconsin noted that “Customers don’t buy technology. Customers buy products that add value.” These two sentences are vital to understanding which investment opportunities are worth pursuing.

An effective problem-solver is a company that:

  • Has identified one or more problems that a potential market is experiencing,
  • Has a plan, product, or service designed to address that problem, and
  • Can implement their solution in a scalable and cost-effective manner

In other words, you’re not just looking for companies to invest in: you’re looking for businesses that will be selling what customers are looking for.

2.) Learn to Understand the Criteria for an Investment’s Success

A 2011 study found that firms receiving angel investments (capital provided mainly for business startups) were about 25% more likely to survive for at least four years than companies that did not receive such funding.

The reason this fact matters is that a good early investment is one that gets enough funding to succeed. If your investment isn’t sufficient to help an opportunity succeed and nobody else is buying in, then it doesn’t matter how good their ideas are.

3.) Assess Your Risk Tolerance

How much risk are you willing to take on? We’ll be blunt with you: many early investments fail. Perhaps they didn’t get enough funding to succeed, or they suffered from poor management by people who were good at making products but not so good at running a company.

Whatever the reasons for failures, though, you’ll need to learn how to ass                                ess both how risky a given investment is and how much you can afford to lose.

As a good rule of thumb, you should never invest more than you could safely afford to lose.

4.) Practice Patience

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Is a HELOC right for you?

By Alyssa Furtado, RateHub.ca

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a convenient way to access the value in your home. You might have seen commercials on TV or been offered one by your mortgage agent. Not only can you get a much lower interest rate than you can with an unsecured line of credit, you can also be approved for a sizeable loan. It’s tempting to have quick access to a lot of money, but is a HELOC right for you?

A HELOC is a secured line of credit that uses your home as security. As with a mortgage, the money you borrow is secured by your home. In Canada, as long as you can show that you can carry the debt, you can borrow up to 65% of the value of your home, provided you keep at least 20% of the value as equity.

For example, if your home is worth $1 million and you owe $400,000 on your mortgage, you can borrow up to $400,000 against your home ($1 million x 80% = $800,000 – $400,000 owing = $400,000).

There are many upsides to getting a HELOC. Depending on the value of your home, you can potentially borrow a large amount of money. Interest rates on HELOCs are significantly lower than on unsecured lines of credit (typically about prime + 0.5%). You can take out money or repay it at any time without penalty. And you can go up to 25 years before you have to pay back what you’ve borrowed.

One of the most appealing HELOC features is that the minimum monthly payment is just the interest that’s accrued. Using a HELOC calculator on that $400,000 line of credit example above, the monthly payment at today’s best HELOC rate of 3.7% is just $1,233. The minimum monthly payment on a traditional line of credit is typically 2% of the outstanding balance: $8,000 on a $400,000 balance. Even a traditional mortgage would require a much higher monthly payment. This feature alone is a big part of why HELOCs are so appealing.

Possible downsides of HELOCs

However, HELOCs also have their downsides.

Because the minimum monthly payment on a HELOC is just the interest, it can feel like it doesn’t cost you much to borrow money. But when you don’t repay the principal, your costs over the long run are actually much higher than with a traditional loan.

Let’s look at an example comparing a regular $50,000 loan with a rate of 4.7% repaid monthly against borrowing $50,000 at 3.7% from your HELOC repaid in a lump sum at the end the loan term.

If you pay the loan over five years, your monthly payment will be $936.83 and you’ll pay $6,209.80 in interest over that time.

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A snapshot of Canadian investors’ appetite for risk: Vanguard’s Canadian risk speedometers

Figure 1: Vanguard’s Canadian risk speedometers, September 30, 2017

By Todd Schlanger, Senior Investment Strategist, Vanguard Canada

(Sponsor Content)

As part of Financial Literacy Month in Canada, we are proud to announce the launch of Vanguard’s Canadian risk speedometers.

These speedometers were originally designed by my colleagues in the United States to provide a factual representation of how investor risk appetite is trending today, relative to the past.

In order to generate the speedometers, we calculated net cash as a percentage of total assets under management, (in this case, within the universe of Canadian mutual funds and ETFs) into high-risk and low-risk asset categories. We then looked at the relative cash flows into high- versus low-risk asset classes, relative to history.

The end result is a risk measure that can be tracked through time and displayed in a risk speedometer index, as shown in Figure 1 over the 1-, 3-, and 12-month periods ending September 30, 2017. When risk appetite is above its historical average — such as over the 12-month period — the needle is to the right of centre, indicating higher risk appetite. When the needle is to the left of centre, risk appetite is below average. In addition to the current risk appetite readings, we also display the prior 1-, 3-, and 12-month readings for comparison.

Notes: Vanguard’s risk speedometers measure the difference between net cash flows into higher-risk asset classes and lower-risk asset classes, in this case within the universe of Canadian mutual funds and ETFs. The lighter-shaded areas represent values that are within one standard deviation of the mean, which means they occur roughly 68.2% of the time (34.1% higher and 34.1% lower). The middle shades represent readings between one and two standard deviations from the mean, occurring 27.2% of the time (13.6% higher and 13.6% lower). The dark edges represent values more than two standard deviations from the mean, occurring the remaining 4.6% of the time (2.3% higher and 2.3% lower). Speedometer values for previous periods may change from what was initially reported as the current value in prior periods because of changes made in Morningstar, Inc., data, and to the updating of the five-year average.

Along with the risk speedometers, we will be providing underlying asset category details (the top winners and losers in each category) in terms of net cash flows and changes in assets under management that resulted in the current risk appetite readings, as shown in Figure 2 (for the same periods, ending September 30, 2017).

Figure 2: Highest net inflows and outflows Continue Reading…

Mobile Personal Finance apps for Millennials seeking Financial Independence

By Reviews Bee

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Smartphones and apps have enormously affected our daily life and financial management. And despite the fact the elder generation may still have some doubts about tracking incomes and expenses,  millennials are more likely to connect their financial independence with these apps.

The fact is many mobile apps nowadays enable quickly entering data on incomes and expenses, and to find information about completed operations, make changes, export the database or restore it from a backup, and track your expenses and income. They give you some perspective on major and minor decisions in life so it becomes much easier to make  right decisions on the flow of your personal money.

When choosing a program, it’s important to consider not only functionality and convenience of interface but also safety. To be sure the financial apps will not let you down, we have considered  functional peculiarities and user reviews of many similar mobile apps, on the basis of which we present some of the best ones:

Mint

The Mint application helps to form a budget, track expenses and achieve financial goals. Costs and savings can be easily tracked in a special list, where different types of financial transactions are marked with different colors, as well as in the tables and charts that the application forms.

Users can also track movements on their bank accounts and credit-card balances in real time, monitor investments and even break their expenses into categories.

In addition, you can set up alerts if it’s time to pay bills, or if users have exceeded their budgets. Another convenient feature: a weekly consolidated report of the movement of your funds is available.

Wally

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