Building Wealth

For the first 30 or so years of working, saving and investing, you’ll be first in the mode of getting out of the hole (paying down debt), and then building your net worth (that’s wealth accumulation.). But don’t forget, wealth accumulation isn’t the ultimate goal. Decumulation is! (a separate category here at the Hub).

Countdown to Year-end: Is your tax planning in place?

By Matthew Ardrey

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

With less than a month to go before the end of the year, it’s time to give some thought to how you are going to put your affairs in order to minimize your taxes next April.

Below I have provided several points that you should contemplate for your own tax situation. Some of these are methods you should consider each year and some are very specific to this year, as the Federal Government proposed some significant changes to the Income Tax Act regarding corporate tax planning.

Capital gains/losses

The end of the year is a good time to review your portfolio. If there are stocks you are holding at a loss, you are better off to realize that loss before the end of 2017. In doing so, you will be able to use those losses to offset any capital gains you may have. If you do not have any capital gains in the current year, you can carry back your capital losses up to three years or forward indefinitely.

Age 71 RRSP Over-contribution

In the year in which you turn 71, you must convert your RRSP to a RRIF by December 31. Once you are in the year you turn 72, you may no longer make personal RRSP contributions; however, spousal RRSP contributions are still permitted if you spouse is under age 72. If you have earned income in your age 71 year, you can make an RRSP contribution in December. Though you will be over-contributed for one month, as you will have new contribution room on January 1, and have a penalty tax on it, the tax savings from the deduction could far outweigh the penalty.

Charitable Donations

December 31 is the final day to make a charitable contribution and receive the tax credit for your 2017 tax filing next April. With donations, the amount you contribute and the amount you earn have an impact on the credit you will receive. The first $200 attracts credits at the lowest marginal tax rates, but those above $200 can attract credits at or near the top bracket. In Ontario, for example, the first $200 will attract a credit of 22.89%, income below $220,000 a credit of 46.41% and above $220,000 50.41%. Continue Reading…

Tips for building brand awareness online

By Emily Jones

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Marketing your online business isn’t necessarily a cut and dry endeavor. For instance, you may have the best products on the planet but are having trouble getting them in front of the right people. Or you’ve found the right people but are unable to communicate with them clearly. Either way, you won’t be making any money.

In the marketing world, there’s no quick fix to success: there are things you should know before choosing your business growth strategies and the following brand building strategies can help you take your efforts to the next level.

The Internet is now pervasive

There’s no denying it: the Internet dominates virtually every aspect of our lives. Thus, it comes as no surprise that it has become very a popular and effective marketing medium. Take control of this monster with these two tips:

Leverage social media

Sites like Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook have the potential to boost the popularity of your brand exponentially. But to get the most out of these sites, it’s important to know which one works best for your brand. For instance:

  • Pinterest and Instagram are best for sites with a lot of pics
  • B2Bs do best on Twitter
  • Small businesses in creative industries do well on Instagram

To succeed, you must create a creative and engaging marketing campaign to help you stand apart from your competition. Do so by posting updates several times a day to make sure you are engaging with your audience on a regular basis.

Embrace influencer marketing

Influencers are well liked and trusted by their audience, making an endorsement by them very valuable. To take advantage of this, find key influencers who are already in your industry. Just make sure that their business complements (rather than competes) with your product or service.

Popular influencers are being courted by my many companies. Give yourself an advantage by researching them: this will give you an idea of what you can do capture their interest and get them to listen to your story.

You may also want to create a couple of influencer strategies. In this way, if your desired influencer decides to go another way, all is not lost. You have other options to choose from.

Offline Brand Building

Although most of your brand building marketing work will be done online, there’s still something to be said about offline marketing. Continue Reading…

5 ways to turn your Savings into Capital Gains

By Sia Hasan

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Continuously adding to your savings account is a responsible and astute financial step towards a comfortable retirement. Unfortunately interest rates offered by banks on standard savings accounts make for really slow growth, which is barely enough to keep up with inflation. Fortunately, there are other investment options out there that can increase your money at a more decent pace, one of which is stocks. Here are five techniques to turning your spare cash into a portfolio that grows both in capital gains and dividend income.

1.) Start Small

You don’t need to pour all of your savings into stocks right away. Going about it slowly can minimize risk. For example, if you have $10,000 as your savings, start buying 10 to 20 shares of stocks per month. Consider increasing your order size or frequency of purchase as you gain more experience or as you get more data about specific companies. If company XYZ’s stock price has solid momentum, consider buying more of it.

2.) Dollar Cost Averaging

You can also do dollar cost averaging, which basically involves setting a budget to buy stock each month. For example, if you have $1,000 to invest per month and company XYZ’s stock costs $50 for this month, you buy 20 shares of it. The next month, it costs $40 per share, so you buy 25 shares. The month after that, it actually increase to $100, so you buy 10 shares for that month and so on.

3.) Strategize according to your Lifestyle

A methodical approach to investing is key to growing your investment portfolio consistently. Strategy removes emotions from the equation, which for an investor can be a detrimental quality or set of qualities to bring in the stock market. Figure out what strategy best fits you. Someone who is saving money month after month is probably occupied with a full-time job; hence there are limited hours in the day for monitoring prices and current positions. Continue Reading…

Why “Topping up to bracket” makes sense if you’re temporarily in a low tax bracket

My latest column in Wednesday’s Globe & Mail looks at a strategy called “Topping up to Bracket,” which can be useful to anyone who is temporarily in a lower tax bracket.

Click on the highlighted headline to access the online version, assuming you have Globe subscriber privileges or haven’t exceeded the monthly free click quota: A strong tax case for early RRSP withdrawals.

When might you be “temporarily” in a lower tax bracket than usual? This can of course happen when you lose a job or if you’re in your Sixties and transitioning between full employment (typically earning in higher tax brackets) and Semi-Retirement, when it’s tempting to “bask” in lower tax brackets.

Temporary because as Semi-Retirement progresses, you can end up moving back into higher tax brackets: for example, if you start to receive Old Age Security (OAS) at 65, then take Canada Pension Plan (CPP) a few years later, these are both taxable sources of income.

And the big hit can come at the end of the year you turn 71, when RRSPs must be converted to Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) or else annualized or cashed out. RRIFs entail forced annual withdrawal rates that keep rising between your 70s and your mid 90s.

So that makes “Topping up to Bracket” (a term used in a BMO Wealth Institute paper on the topic, published around 2013) a strategy not to be ignored. In practice it means making sure that in those low-earning years you at least bring into your hands each and every year the roughly $12,000 of untaxed earnings that’s called the Basic Personal Amount (BPA). And as the G&M column explains, it’s also a good idea to at least bring in the dollars that are in the lowest tax bracket (15% federally, 5% in Ontario), or roughly $42,000. There are of course higher tax brackets above that but the law of diminishing returns starts to kick in beyond the $42,000.

Note too that this is a “use it or lose it” proposition. If for example a year went by that you failed even to bring in even that $12,000 income that would not have been taxed, you can’t carry forward the opportunity to benefit from it the following year. You will of course have another opportunity for the BPA that year but it won’t double up because you neglected to earn low- or non-taxed income the previous year. Continue Reading…

Do men and women have different Savings Habits?

By Danielle Kubes

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

In an online survey about savings habits, financial comparison site reports that although Canadian men and women save almost the same amount of money, men have a greater level of confidence in their financial planning.

Inspired by 2014 Statistics Canada data that says Canadian women have lower financial literacy scores than men and were less likely to consider themselves “financially knowledgeable” (31% of women versus 43% of men), set out to discover if there truly is a gender divide. 

The company digitally surveyed a random sample of 1,087 Canadians in November, with respondents self-identifying their gender.

“Our survey revealed that while men and women differ in aspects of their financial planning, at the core, their personal finance goals and concerns are nearly identical,” the report says.

Both genders have similar financial goals

Indeed, both genders report almost the exact same financial goals. At the top of list of priorities is retirement, followed by travel and then having an emergency fund.

Both men and women prefer to save and invest in registered accounts, especially the registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) and tax-free savings account (TFSA). What they choose to invest in within these accounts — guaranteed income certificates (GICs), exchange traded funds (ETFs), stocks, or other products — is unknown.

Yet men and women diverge most in how confident they are that they’ll have enough money to retire: less than half of women, 41%, say they’re confident compared to over half of men surveyed, at 56%.

Odd, because both genders save almost the same amount of their salaries, with women saving 26% and men 29%.

The gap could potentially be explained in how able they are to grow those savings through investing. Eighty-five per cent of men invest their money, while only 76% of women do.

Of those that do invest, less women than men self-manage their investments, potentially indicating another worrisome lack of confidence in their financial knowledge.

This is supported by the original Statistics Canada data, which found women were less likely to state they “know enough about investments to choose the right ones that are suitable for their circumstances.”

Confidence doesn’t mean financial knowledge

But does confidence translate to actual financial knowledge? Apparently not. When Statistics Canada quizzed Canadians who rated themselves financially literate, one in every three women failed, while one in every four men failed. Continue Reading…