Decumulate & Downsize

Most of your investing life you and your adviser (if you have one) are focused on wealth accumulation. But, we tend to forget, eventually the whole idea of this long process of delayed gratification is to actually spend this money! That’s decumulation as opposed to wealth accumulation. This stage may also involve downsizing from larger homes to smaller ones or condos, moving to the country or otherwise simplifying your life and jettisoning possessions that may tie you down.

5 small business ideas you can start for under $10,000

By Emily Lil

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Have you ever dreamed of opening up your own small business but wondered where you’d find the capital to do so? It turns out that there are scores of businesses that require no more than US$10,000 to start. With such a low start-up investment, there is no excuse to wait before launching your dream business.

1.) A Cleaning Business

All you need to start your own residential cleaning business is a mop, a vacuum, and some bulk cleaning supplies. Develop a game plan and begin by cleaning residential spaces. When you’re ready, commercial clients tend to pay greater hourly rates. Cleaning services make up a billion-dollar industry. Advertise in your local newspaper or register your business with Amazon Services to help customers discover you more quickly. When business is booming, consider embracing the high-paying niches in the cleaning market, such as bio hazard cleaning and commercial janitorial services. While these jobs require more complex equipment, they could lead you to earn a six-figure salary.

2.) Gardener

If you’re an avid and successful home gardener with a wide knowledge of plants and an artistic eye, garden consulting may be the perfect start-up for you. Garden consultants are typically paid by the hour to work with home gardeners, answering questions, and guiding decisions. You may also be asked to develop a cohesive plan including what types of plants, soils, and rocks to incorporate into a garden. If you’re planning on becoming a full-time garden consultant, work on developing a portfolio, advertise in local directories, and develop meaningful contacts. You’d be surprised at how many people desire to skip traditional landscaping services for a more in-depth informative service like garden consulting.

3.) Freelance Writer

If you’re a skilled writer, you can start a home-based business with little to no start-up investment. Continue Reading…

Retirement projections have the answers

Much has been written about the level of retirement readiness and capital needs required to fund that long-term family objective. I submit that the retirement projections have the answers.

I am, however, puzzled by this key observation: “None of the potential clients I’ve met for the first time in the past five years had a recent retirement projection.”

There is much talk and little walk of the talk around this subject. Even though retirement is a top priority for investors and their families.

You are wise to start crafting your personal retirement projection. The sooner the better, then revisiting it every three to five years.

This is something I encourage everyone to mull over. “How do you assess whether your retirement prospects are on target if you have no personal retirement target in mind?”

I summarise three more observations from meetings with potential retirees:

  • Most have not come to grips with the possibility of retirement lasting 25 to 30 years, maybe longer.
  • Most have not thought about the implications of their portfolios receiving little or no saving capacity after retirement.
  • Most are not prepared for escalating costs of health care, say a retirement home facility, even if for only one spouse.

Planning three decades of dependable retirement income is the new money management challenge. Especially, during times of continued low returns.

Very few investors now retired, or nearly retired, have a “retirement projection.” I liken it to building a home without the blueprint.

I don’t know of anyone who builds homes this way. However, there is no shortage of investors who continually try to assemble and guide their retirement nest egg without a personal plan of action. They just buy stuff for the investment shelves.

Retirement surveys keep popping up frequently with similar messages. Typically about how investors are not fully prepared for the long retirement journey.

Some may have accumulated too much debt or too few assets. Others may have incurred too much risk. Perhaps, many may not be saving enough.

Reasons aside, it is rare to meet someone who has a grasp of the capital ballpark required to fund retirement. The main ingredient is the “retirement projection,” also known as the “capital needs” analysis.

The basic step of preparing a retirement projection is a very informative process. I favour constructing one for every client well before retirement and updating it periodically.

The retirement projection is the starting point for everyone considering retirement or actually now retired. It is a ballpark indication of what the family capital needs look like for the long run.

My projection covers several key retirement aspects, such as:

  • Providing long-term retirement income goals, possible health costs and inflation factors.
  • Reviewing the family’s total expenses and cash requirements for projects and purchases.
  • Inclusion of income sources, like employment, pension benefits, real estate, CPP and OAS.
  • Assumptions for possible home downsizing, longevity, special needs and pension funding.

The analysis brings to light these important facts:

  • Capital estimate of funds required to achieve your retirement goals and desires.
  • Periodic saving capacity required by your investment plan.
  • Annual return estimates to reach and maintain your desired retirement lifestyle.
  • Whether your retirement goals are achievable or in need of periodic adjustments.

A retirement projection allows the design of a customised investing road map tailored to each client. It also ensures that what the client seeks is reasonable and suitable vis-à-vis family goals.

Most investors do not feel comfortable navigating their retirement math. A solution is to engage a professional who is well versed with retirement projections.

You are wise to start crafting your personal retirement projection. The sooner the better, then revisiting it every three to five years.

Clearly, up-to-date retirement projections have the answers. It’s time for action if yours is missing in action.

 Adrian Mastracci, Discretionary Portfolio Manager, B.E.E., MBA  started in the investment and financial advisory profession in 1972. He graduated with the Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from General Motors Institute in 1971,  then attended the University of British Columbia, graduating with the MBA in 1972. This blog is republished here with permission from Adrian’s new website, where it originally appeared on May 23rd

Retired Money: A third of OAS recipients can also expect Guaranteed Income Supplement

My latest MoneySense Retired Money column was published today and looks at the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to Old Age Security. You can find the full column by clicking on the highlighted headline adjacent: What to expect when applying for GIS.

Service Canada says as of June 2017, 1.94 million seniors were receiving the GIS, roughly a third of the country’s 5.93 million OAS pensioners.

You can get an overview of the GIS program at the Service Canada web site. It says the first requirement to receive GIS is that you also qualify for and are receiving OAS. So that means you have to be age 65: unlike CPP (which can pay reduced benefits as early as age 60), there’s no such thing as early OAS or early GIS, except in certain special circumstances. If you were automatically enrolled in OAS, you should apply for GIS three months before your 65th birthday.

Maximum monthly GIS payments for a single is $871.86: tax-free!

How much can you receive if you qualify? Service Canada’s media relations department says that as of the July to September 2017 quarter, maximum GIS amounts for those receiving the full OAS pension of $583.74 a month are $871.86 a month for a single, widowed or divorced OAS pensioner (so adding the two, $1,455.60 a month); $524.85 if your spouse/partner receives full OAS, $871.86 if your spouse does not receive an OAS pension or the Allowance, and $524.85 if the spouse receives the Allowance.

Thresholds to qualify are very low

Of course, the fact that two thirds of OAS recipients do NOT qualify for GIS suggests that most people are unlikely to qualify: after all, GIS has been referred to in some circles as “Senior’s Welfare.”

In the case of a couple with a combined income of no more than $23,376 and where the spouse gets full OAS, the maximum monthly GIS for the other spouse is $524.85. If the partner is not receiving OAS and the combined income is no more than $42,384, the individual will get some GIS; they will get the full $871.86 monthly GIS benefit if they have no other income. In the case of a couple making no more than $42,384 and where the spouse is receiving the Allowance, the maximum monthly GIS for the other partner is $524.85. For updated numbers, click here.

Still, if you’re close to these thresholds there’s little to lose by seeing if you may qualify. It used to be that Service Canada didn’t always go out of its way to notify low-income seniors that they may qualify for GIS. This has since been rectified: free money that’s also tax free is certainly something worth investigating!

The “nice” problem of million-dollar RRSPs

Are million-dollar RRSPs a looming tax problem for soon-to-retire baby boomers or simply a nice problem to have?

My latest Globe & Mail Wealth column has just been published on page B9 of the Tuesday paper and online, which you can access by clicking on the highlighted headline here: The secret to paying less tax in retirement.

As one expert cited — Doug Dahmer, who often guest blogs here at the Hub — tax is perhaps the single biggest expense in Retirement. This often becomes apparent when those growing RRSPs the Boomers and others have been accumulating are forced to become RRIFs or Registered Retirement Income Funds at the end of age 71, at which point they become taxable at your highest marginal rate, just like  interest or employment income. Million-dollar RRSPs are not that uncommon, according to the sources consulted for the column, whether individually or shared by couples.

(I say”forced” but of course there are two alternative options: annuitize or cash out. Very few people choose the latter option, while annuitization or partial annuitiization is certainly a valid option as you progress through your 70s, although ideally when interest rates are higher.)

The initial RRIF withdrawal percentage is 5.28% at 71 but minimum withdrawal rates rise steadily over time, hitting 6.82% at age 80, 10.21% by 88 and reach 20% by age 95 and beyond.

Draw down RRSPs/RRIFs early, delay CPP/OAS to 70

As the article notes, this has two implications: one, since it’s unlikely most investors with balanced portfolios will generate returns as high as the withdrawal percentages, most RRIF recipients will start breaking into capital. Continue Reading…

Which investments are best inside and outside RRSPs

As we stated in an earlier article on RRSPs (What you need to know to build a productive RRSP) your investments gain doubly in your RRSP. Instead of paying up to 50% of your profit to the government in taxes, you keep 100% of your money working for you.

When you lose, however, you take a double loss. You lose the money you’ve invested as well as the opportunity to have the money grow for years, or even decades, sheltered from taxes.

So don’t use it as a place to find out if you have a talent for stock trading.

Successful investors put only their safest investments in RRSPs. These investments have the greatest potential to increase in value over time and therefore benefit from the RRSP’s continuing protection from taxes.

If these investors indulge in penny stocks, stock options or short-term trading, they do so outside their RRSPs.

If you hold speculative investments like this in an RRSP and they drop, you lose more than the money you invested in them. You also lose the tax-deduction value of a loss outside your RRSP. Outside your RRSP, you can use capital losses to offset taxable capital gains in the current year, the three previous years, or any future year.

If you invest in mutual funds, you have another set of tax concerns. At the end of the year, mutual funds distribute any capital gains they have made during the year, after deducting any capital losses, to their unitholders. So, you may have to pay capital gains taxes on your mutual-fund holdings, even though you haven’t sold.

Continue Reading…