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.

Reverse engineering your Retirement

I started my university days happily pursuing engineering studies. Then, in my third year, I discovered my new passion and began moving to finance and business.

It turns out that engineering has allowed me to assist clients in managing their nest eggs. Mixing engineering concepts with wealth strategies pays off, so let’s look closer.

What is reverse engineering?

Reverse engineering usually involves taking an object apart and analyzing it in detail: something that engineers are skilled at.

I specifically refer to reverse engineering of retirement goals: working backwards from the desired end results to design a prudent plan for each family.

Reverse engineering retirement consists of two main components:

  1. Estimating the size of nest egg that represents the retirement goal.
  2. Ballparking the investment rate of return to achieve or maintain that goal.

Let’s consider this sample situation:

Assume the nest egg to be accumulated is $1,500,000. Say there are 10 years to go until retirement and today’s portfolio value is $700,000. That implies an annual return of over 7.9% to get there. Perhaps optimistic for today’s low-return environment. Continue Reading…

How to create a winning retirement income strategy

A successful retirement begins with a successful retirement income strategy.

One of the things that investors of all ages fear is that they won’t have a good financial plan in place so that they have enough retirement income to live on once they’ve stopped working.

Here are some ways to ease that anxiety:

In retirement, try to even out (equalize) your income with your spouse’s income, to lower overall taxes. Here’s how:

1.) Have the higher income spouse pay the household bills

The easiest way to even out income between two spouses is to have the higher-income spouse pay the mortgage, grocery bills, medical costs, insurance and other non-deductible costs of family life.

2.) Set up a spousal RRSP

Registered retirement savings plans, or RRSPs, are a form of tax-deferred savings plan designed to help investors save for retirement. RRSP contributions are tax deductible, and the investments grow tax-free.

3.) Pay interest on your spouse’s investment loans

If the lower-income spouse takes out an investment loan from a third party, such as a bank, the higher-income spouse can pay the interest on that loan.

RRIFs are a great long-term retirement income strategy

Continue Reading…

Retired Money: The “Glide Path” to semi- retirement

My latest MoneySense Retired Money column looks at a concept called “The Glidepath” approach to semi-retirement. Click on the highlighted text for the full version, which is headlined How to Transition Into Retirement.

The “Glide Path” is a term used by veteran and now semi-retired financial advisor Warren Baldwin. At 66, Baldwin still works part-time as a senior vice president T.E. Wealth, working out of Oakville, Ont.

When used in the context of airplanes and flight, glide path is a familiar image that Baldwin’s clients easily understand. His own “glide path” to semi-retirement began three and a half years ago. “Maybe it takes five years because it takes two years to plan and get your mind around it. For me, it was coming up three years ago, when I was 63. The timing was right.”

The “Work Optional” stage of life

Another way to describe this is the “Work Optional” stage of life, a term popularized by Emeritus Retirement Solutions’ Doug Dahmer, who is a frequent contributor to the Hub’s “Decumulation” pages. See for example, this post.

Continue Reading…

Which accounts to tap first in Retirement?

Retirees, or those close to retirement, may have several buckets from which to withdraw income in retirement.

There may be assets in RRSPs, taxable or non-registered investment accounts, TFSAs, and possibly corporate or small business assets. At retirement you need to consider which of these accounts to tap into first.

To further complicate matters you might also have income from a workplace pension, not to mention government benefits such as CPP and OAS (and when to apply for these benefits).

The natural inclination, both from a behavioural and a tax planning perspective, is to put off paying taxes for as long as possible. For Canadians, that means leaving assets inside their RRSP(s) until age 71, converting their RRSP into a RRIF, and beginning RRIF withdrawals in the year they turn 72.

Delaying CPP and OAS

Also worth consideration is the incentive for retirees to delay their application for CPP and OAS until age 70. Do this and your CPP benefits will increase by 42 per cent and OAS benefits will rise by 36 per cent versus taking these entitlements at 65.

Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) have been around for less than a decade but already play a critical role in retirement planning. Money saved inside a TFSA grows tax-free and you pay no tax on withdrawals. For retirees, an added benefit of TFSAs is that any money withdrawn does not affect means-tested programs such as OAS and GIS, so there’s no chance that a clawback will be triggered by this income.

Continue Reading…

How to earn $50,000 in dividend income tax-free (in most provinces)

The Financial Post has just published (in Thursday’s paper and online) my article headlined “You can earn $50K in tax-free dividends but there’s a catch: You can’t have a job.”

Can’t have a job, indeed, or a large pension or any other source of significant alternative income.

The article is based on a BMO Financial Group report (May 2016) entitled Eligible Dividend Income. It shows that at least eight provinces or territories make it possible to receive $51,474 a year in “tax-free” eligible dividend income, provided there are no other major sources of income, and notwithstanding any provincial health levies.

These include Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon. It’s only $45,309 in Prince Edward Island, $35,835 in Quebec, $30,509 in Nova Scotia, $24,271 in Manitoba and just $18,679 in Newfoundland and Labrador.

BMO won’t update for 2017 until all 2017 provincial budgets are released. When it first began publishing the document for the 2012 tax year, the maximum amount of tax-free income on eligible dividends was $47,888 in Ontario and eight other provinces. The amount rose to $48,844 in 2013 and to $49,284 in 2014.

Dividend Tax Credit, Basic Personal Amount are keys

This low-tax phenomenon happens through a combination of the Basic Personal Amounts (which in 2016 makes the first $11,474 tax-free federally) and the 15.02% federal dividend tax credit on eligible Canadian dividends: Continue Reading…