They say the best time to plant a tree was 20-years ago but the second best time is now.
The same goes for financial planning. The best time to build a plan is before a crisis/recession/depression but the second best time is today. A good financial plan will help ensure that you’re prepared for a recession or financial emergency.
Having a financial plan provides an incredible amount of peace of mind. A good financial plan will already have anticipated a scenario like this and will ensure you’re still successful. It will highlight how to prepare for a recession and what changes you need to make to ensure you are successful over the long-term.
There are a few best practices that can help improve the ‘robustness’ of a financial plan. These are practices you can start using right away, even if they weren’t previously part of your plan.
Some of these best practices focus on behavior. They help manage your financial routine during emotional periods like this. Some focus on flexibility. They ensure that you have room in your plan to absorb the unexpected, whether that be changes in income, changes in expenses, or changes in investment returns.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in retirement, starting a family, or just starting to save and invest, there are a number of ways that you can prepare for a recession that will help you feel better about your finances and your long-term plan.
This post will touch on many of these best practices. These are best practices that we’ve covered in previous posts, so we’ll cover the basics here and link to past posts for more detail.
Low risk investments are an important part of every financial plan. There are certain reasons we want to use low risk investments in a plan and there are different types of low risk investments that we may want to consider.
Often we can become too focused on increasing investment return to appreciate the usefulness of a low risk investment. When used appropriately, a low risk investment provides an important source of funds in an emergency, or provides less volatility in our investment portfolio, or provides a psychological advantage that may help us avoid making a behavioural mistake during a downturn.
There are a few places that low risk investments will show up in a typical financial plan. If you haven’t considered these uses for low risk investments then it might be time to get a second opinion on your financial plan…
1. Emergency fund
2. Saving for infrequent expenses
3. Saving for a down payment (Or other short term financial goal)
4. Fixed income portion of an investment portfolio
These are some of the typical uses for low risk investments but what are some good low risk investments to use and which of these uses would they be appropriate for?
This is the time of year when personal finances are always top of mind. Whether that be spending or saving… many of us are looking to make improvements to our personal finances.
Often spending and saving go hand in hand. A reduction in spending can mean more money for savings each month. A new savings method can mean it’s easier to avoid excess spending.
It doesn’t matter what age you are, or what stage of your personal finance journey you’re in, it’s often helpful to review spending and saving on a regular basis. Even for those of us who are natural budgeters, it can still be helpful to review spending and saving from time to time to ensure we stay on track. This type of regular “check in” can be very beneficial over the long-term.
There are some common saving methods that we feel are best practices. They make saving money easier to do. These strategies may not work for everyone but they are some of the best saving methods we’ve come across.
In this post we’ll cover a few of the best methods for saving money on a regular basis.
Starting a family is expensive. Estimates are thrown around that it costs in the low six figures to raise each child. Amounts like $100,000 or $200,000 per child are often quoted. While these are probably a bit dramatic, and include the opportunity cost of one parent staying at home, the fact is that starting a family can cause a number of changes to your personal finances.
Anticipating these expenses can ease the financial cost of starting a family (or at least make it a bit less stressful). If you know what’s coming, you can plan accordingly.
When you’re starting a family it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. There are lots of new things that need to be purchased and there’s a strong desire to do the best for your future family. All these emotions can mean that things sometimes get a bit out of control (I speak from personal experience!) Purchases for beds, strollers, car seats, clothing etc. etc. can quickly add up to thousands of dollars.
In addition to new purchases, families often go through major cash flow changes when starting a family.
On the income side, parental leaves from work can significantly reduce income when starting a family. Of course there are sometimes “top ups” from employers, but those only last for weeks or a few months at best, and employment insurance is only 55% to 33% of your pay up to the max (depending on if you choose the 12-month or 18-month option). Even with these programs there is often a large decrease in income when starting a family.
One the expenses side, the big one is of course daycare expenses. Daycare expenses last for a few years but for most families this expense will go away once kids start school. But even when daycare expenses disappear there are still ongoing expenses for things like food, clothing, activities etc. etc., and these can add up over time.
And if all of that wasn’t challenging enough, starting a family also comes with new tax advantaged accounts like the RESP and new government benefits like the Canada Child Benefit (CCB).
To avoid being too overwhelming let’s look at the six major ways that your finances can change when you’re starting a family and how you might go about making the best decisions for your financial future.
Everyone is talking about investment fees these days. There are ads on the radio, television, and online… there are podcasts, websites, blogs dedicated to low-fee investing… there are also books, magazines and research studies… all focused on one thing… how much the average investor pays in fees while saving for retirement.
But very few people are talking about the effect investment fees have on retirement itself. Mostly they talk about how fees impact you as you save for retirement, but very few mentions what happens if you continue to pay high fees as you enter retirement.
Fees definitely have an enormous impact on how much you can save for retirement. The average mutual fund fee is 2.35% in Canada, and that’s the average, there are lots of situations where the fee is even higher. The effect of this fee on a lifetime of savings and investments is enormous!
But what if you’re close to retirement? What is the impact then? Arguably the effect of investment fees on retirement planning is even greater than any other period.
Fees have an enormous effect on retirement planning because by the time we’ve reached retirement we’ve already saved up a huge nest egg. Unlike the accumulation phase, where you have limited assets in the beginning, when it comes to retirement, you’re starting with a huge amount of investment assets. This makes the impact of fees enormous, especially in early retirement.
The problem for retirees is that investment fees are hard to spot, hard to find, they’re almost hidden by investment providers, whether that is intentional or not. I’ve seen this on countless investment statements I receive from clients. Based on the statement alone you would NEVER know how much they’re paying in investment fees each year.
This isn’t an isolated issue, it’s a problem that many, many retirees face. Low-fee investing is a relatively new option in Canada. If you were investing 10-20+ years ago there just weren’t as many options to reduce your investment fees.
Many retirees who have high-priced investments are shocked (and somewhat saddened) to learn exactly how much they’re paying each year. It’s not their fault, this information is hard to find and not readily available to investors.
To figure out how much an investor is paying each year usually requires some digging. Mutual fund codes vary by fund and fund class. Sometimes fees can vary by 1% or more for the same mutual fund depending on the class.
But once you know how much you’re truly paying you can start to see the impact it will have on your retirement plans. There are two main effects that high fees can have on retirement, and the impact can be substantial.
Managing finances in a relationship is hard isn’t it? Financial issues are one of the most common factors leading to divorce. Two different people can have very unique views on money and partners in a relationship are no exception.
Everyone values money a little bit differently. We all spend money in different ways. You might prioritize good food while I might prioritize expensive clothes. Couples have different priorities when it comes to money and if those aren’t communicated then its easy for this to cause resentment, anger and frustration between partners.
My wife Sue and I have been managing our money together for 10+ years and I feel we’re pretty successful at it. We still have disagreements, and we each manage our money completely differently, but we have a good system in place to ensure we’re communicating regularly about our finances.
Recently Sue and I were on the Because Money podcast talking about how we manage money as a couple. Sue and I talked to Sandi Martin and John Robertson about a few of the things we do on a regular basis to make money less stressful for us as a couple. You can listen to the whole podcast, but I’ve summarized a few of the main things below.