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  Home ownership unwise for young adults

Monday, May 25, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comA veteran Bay Street entrepreneur wants to demolish the idea that it's smart to buy a house as soon as you can after graduating and starting a career.

A more realistic take on projected returns

Saturday, May 23, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comSome of the country's top financial minds think you should expect to make 6.3-percent a year in Canadian stocks over the long term and 3.9 per cent in bonds.

How to choose a travel rewards program

Friday, May 22, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comNow's the time to start planning your 2016 summer vacation.There's no rush on the destination, but you'll do yourself a favour by picking the right credit card travel rewards program now and then using it for the next 12 months to rack up points. People sweat the details on which specific card to get, but there's a bigger question that has to be addressed beforehand. Do you want a card that gets you reward flights, or one that offers generic points you can use for any travel at all?

We may be paying off our debts, but we're not saving

Monday, May 18, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comWe're drunk on debt. It's impaired the judgment of even our stars of personal finance.As part of our series on debt, we built an online debt diagnostic tool that shows people how their finances are bearing up under their debt loads and allows them to compare their situation with others (

Gen Y savers: Some clarity amid volatility

Saturday, May 16, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comGen Y investors are confused about the stock market and it's not their fault.Meet a woman we'll call ''Jane'' - 26 years old, working full-time and saving like a machine. She's thinking of buying a house in five years and looking for some suggestions on how to invest roughly $80,000 already set aside for a down payment.

Why it isn't time to dump bonds
Rob Carrick  

Friday, May 15, 2015

The problem with the great years we've had as investors lately is that we're getting greedy.We have become accustomed to having both stocks and bonds make money for us at the same time, and we get squirrely at times when they don't. Like now, for example.

New disclosure rules will bring drama to client-investor relations

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

''Bonfire of the Investment Advisers'' is as good a working title as any for the drama that will unfold in the financial industry in summer, 2016.Unless client-adviser communications improve a whole lot, the introduction of new fee disclosure rules in July of next year is going to fry a lot of relationships. This is clear from the results of a recent survey of 1,000 investors with investable assets of $10,000 or more by a trio of consulting and marketing firms, Marketing Directions, 21st Avenue Partners and PMG Intelligences. Here are some of the more dismal findings:

What to do when your mortgage rules you

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comVicky and Sandhya Bhardwaj bought a house in 2011, and now the house owns them.The Mississauga house has appreciated nicely in price, but the couple's mortgage rules their budget. Asked to comment on their situation, financial planner Renee Verret pegged their mortgage and other fixed monthly expenses at a very high 79 per cent of their net pay. As a result, they're borrowing to supplement their lifestyle. Also, they have no emergency fund and their expenses are set to rise when their baby arrives in August.

There is no such thing as good debt

Monday, May 11, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comA country doesn't build up as much debt as we have without some seriously delusional thinking.We tell ourselves we deserve the things we can only afford with borrowed money. We tell ourselves that raises or bonuses will take care of our debts. We tell ourselves that interest rates are so low, it's smart personal finance to borrow.

A plague of financials

Saturday, May 09, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comFor better or for worse, banks, insurance companies and investment firms account for just over one-third of the SandP/TSX composite index. But if you think your exposure to financials ends there, you're wrong.

Ten ways to toughen up as a bank customer

Friday, May 08, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comHow to make bankers yawn: Complain about service fees.The intense reaction to last week's column on the across-theboard service fee increases that Royal Bank of Canada will introduce June 1 shows a lot of people are cranked about bank fees. But banks are pros at riding out these little storms. They know that today's grievances about bank fees are tomorrow's complaints about cellphone and cable TV bills or the price of gasoline.

Don't be the shy Canadian when dealing with your adviser

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Canadians are so excessively polite when talking about money that even an investment industry guy is surprised by it.''There's a certain percentage of people out there who are too timid, or too shy,'' said David Fraser, a counsellor with Mawer Investment Management Ltd. in Calgary. ''Maybe it's been ingrained in them from an early age that it's impolite to speak to someone about their finances.''

ETF Buyer's Guide: A world of dividends

Saturday, May 02, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comCanadian investors love dividends, and they're more open than ever to global markets. So it's logical that one of the hotter trends in the exchange-traded fund business is U.S. and global dividend funds.

No stone left unturned as RBC hikes fees

Thursday, April 30, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comCanada's largest bank has decided that it's not enough to charge clients interest when they borrow money.Starting June 1, a limited number of Royal Bank of Canada customers will pay a fee when they make their regular monthly loan or mortgage payments from various accounts. The change is contained in a list of service fee and account changes that is notable for the way it affects people of all ages - from seniors to students and kids who have the bank's Leo's Young Savers Account. You won't find a better document of bank creativity in mining its customer base for more fee income. Study it ( and watch for other banks to do something similar.

Talk of TFSA limits distracts from our serious debt issue

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comThe overlooked backdrop to the rise in the TFSA limit is our high and rising level of household debt.Having eliminated its deficit, Ottawa felt it had room to increase the annual contribution ceiling for tax-free savings accounts to $10,000 from $5,500 in last week's budget. But a lot of Canadian households still live in deficit-land. The ratio of debt to disposable household income hit a fresh high at the end of last year, and total growth in debt levels continues to run well ahead of increases in salary and wages. This suggests an ongoing inability of some people to live within their budget.

Retirees can save tax by trimming RRIFs

Saturday, April 25, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comPortfolio Strategy presents a case study on how seniors can put a higher contribution limit for tax-free savings accounts to work.The federal government says seniors will be prime beneficiaries of a move announced in this week's budget to boost the annual TFSA ceiling to $10,000 from $5,500. One way to get your fair share if you're just entering retirement is to start withdrawing money from your registered retirement plans and moving it into a TFSA.

A case for dumping mutual funds
Rob Carrick  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Game plan for getting out of mutual funds and into ETFs: Start with Canadian dividend and U.S. equity funds.Actively managed mutual funds in the Canadian Dividend and Income category are the most hopeless of the seven equity fund categories included in the just-issued 2014 Standard and Poor's Indices Versus Active Funds (SPIVA) analysis. In the report, not a single Canadian dividend fund outperformed the SandP/TSX Canadian Dividend Aristocrats Index over the previous five years. The three-year numbers were better - almost 26 per cent of dividend funds beat the index - but the one-year numbers show just less than 7 per cent outperforming.

Three things I'd like to see in the budget

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comFinance Minister Joe Oliver has your loot bag ready.If you're a senior or a parent of young children, Tuesday's federal budget will cap off quite the party. The Family Tax Cut and an improved Universal Child Care Benefit have already been announced, as has an increased Child Care Expenses Deduction.

A cruel and unusual twist

Saturday, April 18, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comThe recent plunge in preferred shares is an early candidate for nastiest investing surprise of the year.People commonly see preferred shares as being a safer, more stable choice than common shares, said John Nagel, vice-president and director of preferred shares at Desjardins Securities Inc. ''But what's happened over the past year? Common shares have soared, and preferreds have tanked.''

Millennials: Save your cash, move home

Thursday, April 16, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comMemo to those who still find it weird that young adults are moving back home after university or college: Get over it. In her new book, Smart is the New Rich: Money Guide for Millennials, Christine Romans argues that moving home is economically necessary in many cases and a smart thing to do. A failure to launch? No way, says Ms. Romans, chief business correspondent for CNN in New York.

Don't blame lower bank rates for higher household debt levels

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

There's something a bit frantic about the way lenders are competing on mortgage rates as the spring home-buying season begins.Isn't it great?There's often a disapproving tone to media coverage of lenders competing on rates. Typically, the rate is juxtaposed with a mention about the high levels of household debt, as if banks are causing this problem by slashing rates.

ETF Buyer's Guide, Part 5: Income funds

Saturday, April 11, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comThe exchange-traded fund business has jumped on a trend that has long kept mutual fund companies well-fed and happy.ETF companies have been introducing more and more balanced and monthly income funds, which are consistently among the most popular mutual funds. Add these new ETF products to the many dividend funds already available and you end up with a massive selection of products for income-seeking investors.

Look for protection in high-yield bonds
Rob Carrick  

Friday, April 10, 2015

Wondering how to protect your bond holdings? Think high yield.A BMO study concluded that short- and mid-term federal, provincial and investment-grade corporate bonds are highly correlated. This suggests that combining corporate and government bond ETFs won't offer much protection if rates rise. Emerging market bonds and preferred shares (they're often considered fixed income, but can also be classified as equities) offer significantly more diversification to both government and corporate bonds.

$11,000 How a doubling of the TFSA contribution limit will affect everyone from young adults to retirees

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comA lifetime's worth of financial planning would be affected if the annual contribution limit for tax-free savings accounts is doubled.Finance Minister Joe Oliver is strongly suggesting that the federal budget coming April 21 will deliver on a promise the federal Conservatives made in the last election campaign to double the annual contribution limit on TFSAs, currently at $5,500. ''Canadians know that we stick to our commitments,'' Mr. Oliver said in a letter to Conservative MPs dated Tuesday. ''I will present a balanced budget that will make life more affordable for Canadians.''

Reduce tax pain: Claim medical expenses

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

rcarrick@globeandmail.comTax advice for an aging nation: Get to know the medical expense tax credit.The shadowy medical expense tax credit - a lot of taxpayers know it's there, but not what costs are eligible or how to calculate it. ''The medical expense tax credit is probably one of the more complicated ones to calculate,'' explains John Crawford, a chartered accountant and chief financial officer of Pacific Blue Cross in Burnaby, B.C. ''The rules are quite complicated in terms of what's eligible and what's not eligible.''

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