All posts by Jonathan Chevreau

Blue Monday: Here’s what gives us the financial blues on this saddest day of the year

Feeling the financial blues a bit today? Little wonder because today, Monday, Jan. 15th, is Blue Monday, dubbed the saddest (most depressing?) day of the year.
 Call me a masochist but I also decided this was the day to download the 2017 online version of TurboTax and at least confront the looming reality of preparing another year’s tax returns. The program said it can be used to print and file your 2017 tax return by mid-January, and that NetFile will be available as of 6 am on February  26th. How depressing is that a mere two weeks after the holidays?

But if the thought of filing your taxes doesn’t make you blue, or even the snow that’s falling as I write this, maybe the thought of credit-card bills from the holidays will do the trick. Credit Canada and the Financial Planning Standards Council today released the results of  a Blue Monday themed Financial Blues survey that revealed that 53% of Canadians are “already feeling financially blue, with the younger generations struggling.”

The Financial Blues Survey was based on a Leger poll that asked Canadians “when it comes to your finances, what makes you blue this time of year?”

Well, bowl me over with a feather: the start of another tax season didn’t make the cut in the poll, or at least the top five “standout” findings. Here’s the top candidates for feeling blue in January:

  • 20% of us have a credit-card balance larger than our savings accounts
  • Younger adults aged 18 to 44 are especially blue about finances right now: 68% of them versus just 41% for adults aged 45 or older
  • 25% of us lack the funds to take a winter vacation in the sun
  • 6% have already broken their financial new year’s resolutions
  • 21% over-spent during the Holidays

Credit Canada CEO Laurie Campbell  says that while “we are seeing a good deal of Canadians stressed out about their financial situation … the takeaway message is that there is hope. Develop a plan, tackle debt, and realize your financial potential. There are professional resources available to you, so don’t feel you need to go it alone.” Continue Reading…

Strapped for cash after holidays? How to make the RRSP deadline with no new money

How to beat the March 1st RRSP deadline without having to come up with new money is the subject of my latest MoneySense Retired Money column. You can access it by clicking on the highlighted headline: How to ‘find’ cash for your RRSP contribution.

As with the previous column involving doing the same thing for TFSAs, this involves a tricky procedure known as “transfers-in-kind,” which means you need some investments in your non-registered portfolio to pull it off. There can be tax pitfalls so you need to find investments that haven’t greatly appreciated in value, or find offsetting losers without falling afoul of the CRA’s superficial loss rules.

Seniors in particular likely have a good amount of money sitting in “open” or non-registered investment accounts, which means any securities can be “transferred in kind” to your RRSP, thereby generating the required receipt to generate a tax refund come tax filing time in April.

You don’t have to be a senior of course: any Canadian of any age can transfer-in-kind securities from their open accounts to their RRSPs; it’s just that many younger folks may not have a lot of money housed in non-registered accounts. Most tend to maximize the RRSP first and since 2009, the TFSA.

But beware the RRSP that gets “too big”

Of course, the kind of pre-retirees who read this column may want to consider whether their RRSP might become “too big” and eventually put you in a higher tax bracket once you start to RRIF after age 71. I looked at this “nice problem to have” in an FP column last May.

Continue Reading…

Motley Fool: How to top up your TFSA even if you have no “new” money

How to top up your TFSA is the subject of my first blog of the new year for Motley Fool Canada, which has just been published.

Click on the highlighted text to retrieve the full piece: January is TFSA top-up time — How to contribute the maximum $5,500 even if you don’t have “new” money.

So what’s the “old” money you can use instead? Well, while younger investors probably have most of their money in RRSPs and TFSAs, old-timers who were saving for decades before the 2009 introduction of the Tax-free Savings Account tend to have significant chunks of their net worth in taxable non-registered (aka “Open”) investment accounts. This is particularly the case for those with generous corporate pension plans, which means RRSP room was limited by the so-called “Pension Adjustment” or PA that’s shown on your T-4 slips. (Yes, brace yourself for the annual onslaught!)

Of course, by definition, taxable accounts generate annual tax liability on all the dividends, interest and capital gains you may have enjoyed in the calendar year. In the next few weeks and months you can expect your mailbox to be full of T-3 and T-5 slips that tell you and also the Canada Revenue Agency just how much money you received and will have to pay tax on when you file your taxes late in April for the 2017 calendar year just completed.

Key concept: Transfers-in-Kind

The Motley Fool article goes into the mechanics of “transfers-in-kind,” which means identifying stocks or ETFs (or other securities) in your taxable account that can be transferred into your TFSA. Continue Reading…

2 powerful New Year’s resolutions for a wealthy and healthy 2018

This will be a VERY short blog; nonetheless if you take the two resolutions seriously, you might well transform both your Wealth and Health. As Sandy Cardy wrote in a Hub blog, last week, Health IS true Wealth.

Resolution 1: Health

If I haven’t done it already, I will embark on a lifelong program to improve my nutrition and exercise daily, along the lines of the last Hub blog of 2017: Younger Next Year.

Resolution 2: Wealth

As of January 1st (if I have an online discount brokerage account, otherwise January 2nd or later this week), I will top up my Tax-free Savings Account (TFSA) by a further $5,500: the “new” TFSA contribution room that all adult Canadians qualify for as of the new year. This resolution applies to everyone from age 18 to seniors: especially to seniors and those in semi-retirement or approaching full retirement. The Hub’s second last blog of the year explains why: Retired Money — How TFSAs can give seniors more tax-free retirement funds.

That’s it: one short blog, two simple resolutions; yet with the potential to transform almost all aspects of your existence. So to all who read or contribute to the Hub, a very happy, healthy and wealthy new year. See you in 2018!

P.S. New Younger This New Year 2018 Facebook Group

I’d like to spread the word that this weekend’s Younger Next Year blog triggered via Twitter the creation of a new Facebook group called Younger Next Year – 2018. I believe I am member #5: thanks to Vicki Peuckert Cook for taking the initiative to create this. As with the Hub, the group consists (at least initially) of both American and Canadians. Hope to see you there!


Younger Next Year (& creation of Younger Next Year – 2018 Facebook group)

Younger Next Year. How’s that for a New Year’s Resolution?

Seriously, as we head into 2018, who wouldn’t want to be younger in 2018 than they were in 2017?

Impossible, you scoff? Clearly, you haven’t read the New York Times bestselling book, Younger Next Year, or its spinoff titles, including Younger Next Year for Women.

The authors are a vibrant 70-year old (at the time of writing) and ex New York litigator Chris Crowley and his personal physician (25 years his junior), named Henry Lodge (Harry in most of the text; I should clarify that this is the late Henry Lodge, since he passed await at age 58  early in 2017 of prostate cancer. Ironic.)

The subtitle says it all: Live Strong, Fit and Sexy — Until You’re 80 and Beyond. I’m grateful to one of my sources — Hub contributor Doug Dahmer of Emeritus Retirement Strategies — both for twigging me to the book’s existence and to supplying me a copy. (He appears to have laid in a good stash of the book).

Take control of your Longevity

And for good reason. The book is all about taking control of your personal longevity, chiefly  through proper nutrition but first and foremost by engaging in daily exercise: aerobic activity at least four days a week and weight training for another two days a week. Week in and week out, for the rest of your life. And the payoff is what is promised in the subtitle.

Apart from daily exercise and “Quit eating crap” (to use the authors’ phrase, one of Harry’s 7 Rules reproduced below) the authors urge readers to “Connect and Commit,” which means staying engaged even after formal retirement. In fact, as we argue in our own book Victory Lap Retirement, there’s a case to be made for never entirely retiring. Leaving the corporate workplace, probably, but semi-retirement and self-employment from home are certainly viable alternatives.

While Younger Next Year only touches on retirement finances, it certainly reinforces the main theme of this web site ( It’s encapsulated in Harry’s 4th Rule: Spend Less Than You Make.

Harry’s Rules

I can see at this point that it’s best to simply list Harry’s 7 Rules, which formally appear in the book’s appendix (page 305 of my copy): Continue Reading…