Have you looked at your finances lately?
South Coast Financial Services
We care about your financial self defence ... shouldn't you?
The uncertainty COVID-19 has brought to our lives makes it easy to become discouraged and even worried about what the future holds. This is true for everyone, those who are not financially prepared and those that seemed to be doing everything right.
Despite the fact that things are uncertain it is a good time to take stock of your financial future and how you can improve if. You don’t have control over what is happening but you do have time to spend exploring your situation and see what changes could be made.
Here are some things you can do:
1) Take a holistic view of your finances
It’s more important than ever to know where you stand with your personal
finances. You want to make sure you can account for all of your cash flow
coming in and out of your bank accounts, your investment account totals, your
taxes, how much you are saving towards your specific financial goals, and how
much you owe on liabilities including credit cards, loans, and other debts.
You can’t really take steps to improve your finances until you know where you
stand right now. Our Financial Goals Analysis which we do complimentary for our
clients is the first logical step to looking at your finances.
2) Consider Budgeting
No one likes budgeting but now is an excellent time to start a budget. Start with
a monthly budget since many of our bills are on a monthly basis.
Start by seeing how much money comes in and out of your bank account every
month. You can do this manually with a piece of paper, a program like Quicken or
by going to our web site and downloading the budget spreadsheet which covers
most items that should be in your budget.
The spread sheet will show you if you are spending more than what’s coming in
and calculates how much you are spending on various categories of spending
and where you can possibly cut spending to ensure you are not spending too
3) Take Stock Of Your Emergency Fund
Now you need to ensure you have an emergency fund to handle unexpected
situations in our life like job loss, emergency repairs, etc. It is recommended that
we start with 6 weeks of emergency money to cover necessary expenses and
then build it up to 3 months and then to cover 6 months of expenses. During the
current pandemic the world is going through it may be hard to build up cash in
your emergency fund but where you can save towards this it will help you in the
long run. If you did look at item 2 and create a budget of monthly spending it
will be easier to determine how much you should have in your emergency fund.
4) Ensure you are saving towards your retirement
Retirement saving is something you should have been doing since you started
working at your permanent job. Yes you may have a company pension plan and
the government has CPP and OAS but will this really be enough for you to live
the life style you want at retirement time. In most cases people need to put
away for retirement, the emergency fund in point 3 can become part of your
retirement funds however you should also be contributing to your RRSP. It will
reduce your taxable income now giving you some extra money for your monthly
budget and yes when you take the funds out you will pay taxes on it. Many
people use this as an emergency fund but this isn’t good since you will be paying
taxes on it when you remove the funds while earning income today. Doing this
you may be paying a higher tax rate costing you growth for retirement. This why
an emergency fund is so important. At retirement you can take from your
emergency fund tax free (if you put it into a TFSA) and remove some from your
RRSP/RIF, this will reduce your taxable income.
Now the market is very volatile at the moment and many of us have our
emergency fund in a bank account or mutual fund along with our retirement
funds in GIC’s or Mutual funds. Is this the best place?
GIC’s are just what they say guarantees on the growth of your money however
your return is usually very low. In fact it is usually less than the increase in the
cost of living meaning that you are actually loosing buying power. So is the
guarantee good for you? No! You are still gambling with your future retirement.
Mutual funds scare some people as well that’s why they prefer GIC’s which we
have just shown loose you buying power in the future. The reason mutual funds
scare some people is that they are volatile especially in times like what we are
going through now. There is no guarantee that you will gain or lose money in
mutual funds again making your retirement future unpredictable.
Another alternative is investing in Segregated Funds which are similar to a
mutual fund but are sold by an insurance company. Most segregated funds have
guarantees associated with them:
a) Your investment contributions are guaranteed at 75% or 100% at term of
investment or death.
b) You can exercise reset options to include growth in the guaranteed value.
The frequency of the reset options depends on the insurance company. Some
insurance companies don’t have reset options.
c) They are creditor protected meaning that if you were to declare bankruptcy
your creditors can’t touch the money in your segregated funds.
d) They bi-pass probate meaning at death the funds will not be subject to
probate taxes and will go directly to your beneficiary.
If you have funds in mutual funds or GIC’s you can transfer them to segregated
funds to get the guarantees above. There may be conditions from your current
company which you will want to look at that may restrict when you can do the
This involves your Wills and Powers of Attorney. If you have them you should
review them yearly to ensure they still meet your desires for your estate and
ensuring that you are looked after should you not be able to care for your self.
A Will establishes someone to look after your estate when you pass away and
your wishes are carried out as outlined in the will. This person (the Executor)
also ensures your financial obligations are looked after. Ensure you pick someone
that you believe will follow your wishes and you have confidence in.
There are 2 Powers of Attorney, one that looks after your financial obligations
and one that makes decisions regarding your health care. If you become
incapacitated and can’t look after yourself these individuals will look after
decisions on your behalf. Again pick someone you trust and knows your wishes
so they can make decisions for you.
6) Your life insurance needs
Make sure your you have enough life insurance to ensure your family can live
the life you would want them to should you die unexpectedly. Many people who
have contracted the Covid-19 virus have passed away hopefully they had life
insurance to help their families. Even without the pandemic people die
unexpectedly from a car accident, unexpected health issue, etc. We really don’t
know when or how we will pass on but one thing we do know is that we would
want the best for our family when we die.
There are several types of life insurance like term insurance, whole life insurance
(with several types as well) and insurance that don’t require a medical. But they
all are fully underwritten and will pay out to your family should you pass away,
unlike mortgage insurance from a bank which is underwritten at time of death
and may or may not payout.
When determining how much insurance you need here are a few thing you
a) your outstanding mortgage value
b) credit card / loans
c) money to allow your family to carry on until at least your children are out of
d) money to help pay for your children's education
e) final expenses
There are a lot of things we can do to ensure our families financial future. At South Coast Financial Services we are here to help you with all of the points above through our Financial Goals Analysis. Contact us and arrange for you complimentary analysis today!
We provide services in all these areas:
Investing for the Future
Wills & Powers of Attorney
Should you desire more information in any of these areas contact us, our contact information is below and we would be glad to setup a time where we can sit down and discuss things with you.
Also make sure you book your appointment for your complimentary, comprehensive and confidential Financial Goals Analysis. The analysis can lead you and your family to your financial goals and dreams!