• Ward Report 11: How to Financially Prepare for the Married Life

    25 March 2017


    Making the decision to get married begins a new and exciting adventure in your life as a couple. Love and excitement permeate the air as you start planning the perfect day. Although the decisions surrounding a wedding seem endless, such as setting a date or picking the perfect venue, there are other important questions that need to be answered as you start your lives together.

    Should two people manage the money?

    The short answer is yes! Allowing only one person to be in control of the household finances can lead to potential disaster. You and your soon-to-be spouse should take an evening and sit down to discuss who is going to manage which aspects of the household funds. Be sure to honestly answer the “who, what, when, where and why” when it comes to both of your finances.

    Now is the perfect time to come clean about everything you have whether it be the amount of debt or the bonus you received last week. Take out your last bank statements and review what you have and what you owe.

    How will you handle the expenses?

     There are a few different approaches to how you can split the expenses as a couple. One option is that you can split the expenses 50/50 (which means splitting everything equally). This works the best if both partners make approximately the same amount of money.

    Another option is that you can split everything proportionately. For example, if one person makes $60,000 per year and the other makes only $30,000 annually, then the person with the higher income could pay 60% of the expenses and the person with the lower income would be responsible for the remaining 40% of the expenses. For this approach to work, each partner should prepare a personal budget to ensure that the expenses breakdown is realistic.

    The last option is to pool all your money together, then set your financial goals. When using this approach, it is highly suggested to set aside a budgeted amount so each partner can have personal indulgences. Overall, this is a great strategy to ensure you are working together towards a goal while avoiding resentment.

    How much personal spending money does each of you need?

    The truth is each spouse needs their own personal spending budget. By setting aside a personal amount that will be outside of your household budget, you avoid the resentment that will come if you need to ask your partner for money each time you want to purchase that $10 t-shirt or buy that morning coffee. Together decide on an amount that is fair and work it into your budget.

    You should also decide how much can be spent before you need consent from the other person. If one of you is a shop-a-holic, make the number low. If one of you is extremely frugal, negotiate a higher number. Doing this will not only eliminate the need to hide things from your partner, but it will also help to limit impulse purchases which can easily push your budget off-track.

    How will you cope when things get difficult?

     Are you prepared for the ups and downs that life will throw you? As much as you probably don’t want to think about worst case scenarios, make it a point to discuss what you would do if life throws you a lemon. Do you have a will, life insurance, disability and critical illness insurance, emergency savings, and so on? By having this conversation now, you will both be prepared for the potentially awful circumstances that life may throw at you in the future.

    Check out our sample wedding budget here: MoneySmart Wedding Budget

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  • Ward Report 10: Goal Setting

    9 September 2016

    Regardless of what life stage you are in, you are likely to have some short and long term personal financial goals. Setting tangible and realistic goals, following them, and tracking your progress is the key to success in achieving all of your financial goals.

    Be Specific and Realistic

    Set goals that are specific and measurable. Instead of saying you want to have enough money to retire comfortably, think about how much money you’ll need. Maybe your specific goal will be to save $500,000 by the time you’re 65.

    5 Questions to Ask Yourself

    Your goals should also be realistic and based on your current financial situation. Think about how much you can afford to save toward your goals each month. Based on how much you can afford to save, you may have to decide which goals are most important to you.

    1. How soon do you want to reach each goal?
    2. How much money will it take to reach each goal?
    3. How much can you afford to save toward each goal?
    4. What will you gain or lose by putting one goal first?
    5. What choices will help you enjoy a better quality of life today? In the future?

    If Your Goals Conflict

    After setting your goals, you may find that some of them conflict. For example, paying for a child’s braces may take money from their university savings. Taking care of aging parents could reduce saving for your own retirement.

    If you have to choose between 2 or more goals, ask yourself which goal causes the least harm if you don’t reach it. Sometimes you have to set one goal aside for a while to reach a more important goal.

    Prioritizing Conflicting Goals

    After setting your goals, you may find that you have goals that conflict. For example, many parents find themselves choosing between saving for their own retirement and saving for their children’s education. If you’re in this situation, ask yourself: How much harm would it cause if you didn’t have enough to live on when you retire? If you couldn’t help pay for your children’s education?

    There’s no easy answer. Only you can decide which solution is likely to cause the least harm. For example, you might decide that you need to save more for retirement, and that you’ll help your kids arrange student loans when the time comes. Or, you might decide that saving for their education is your priority, and you’ll retire later than you originally planned. You may also choose to save for both your retirement and your children’s education by putting away a little less for each goal.

    Review Your Top Goals

    Your priorities will change over time, so review your top 3 goals at least once a year and adjust them if you need to.

    Managing Big Financial Planning Goals – How Do You Eat An Elephant?

    There’s a famous saying in the world of goal setting: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

    The point of the statement is the recognition that if you try to tackle an enormous goal all at once, it can seem overwhelming, to the point of feeling so unachievable it’s not even worth trying. Instead, if you want to be prepared to succeed in a monumental sized goal, the key is to break it down to smaller, bite-sized goals that are feasible and achievable.

    6 examples of specific goals

    1. Pay off your credit card debt within the next 6 months.
    2. Pay off your mortgage faster by paying down an extra $5,000 each year.
    3. Save $20,000 for an emergency fund within the next 2 years.
    4. Save $25,000 for a down payment on a house over the next 3 years.
    5. Save $40,000 for your child’s education by the time she turns 18.
    6. Save $5,000 for a vacation next year.

    If you would like a consultation about any of the three broad stages of goals-based investing: setting personal goals; implementing a strategy to achieve those goals; and the monitoring process then please contact us at the office!

      “The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money or the most awards. They are the ones who care”.


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  • Ward Report 9: Make 2016 a New Year of Financial Solutions

    5 January 2016

    As another year comes to a close, we begin to reflect on the past and what changes we would like to make in the upcoming year. Particularly after the holidays, a new year is important time to take a look at our financial health (especially since our bank books are probably a little worse for wear).

    Finances are a great place to start fresh at the beginning of a new year. Just by starting to make some financial resolutions, it can help make financial decisions seem less daunting. Not only does getting your finances in order sound like a great idea, but keeping your finances fit can also help you to feel better by alleviating some of your current financial worries.

    Here are just 6 tips that may help you to make a healthier financial start to 2016:

    1. Spend less.

    This sounds so easy right? What makes it more difficult is that everyone has monthly expenses and you need a place to live and eat. However, even when it comes to your monthly expenses there are ways to spend less. For example, try shopping around for lower-priced cell phone service or TV/internet services. You can also try stocking up on everyday staples such as paper towels when they are on sale. The best way to spend less is to know what you are actually spending in the first place. Check out our New Year’s Cash Flow Management Sheet to see where your money is actually going.

    1. Save more.

    Once you have looked at your spending it will be easy to see where you can save more. The key to saving more is to implement a savings plan that will help you stay disciplined when it comes to your savings goals. One of the simplest ways to ensure you save regularly is to make it automatic. For example, one great way to save is to set up a pre-authorized monthly plan that is tied to your pay cheques that way the money disappears as soon as it hits your bank account and you get used to starting with a lower monthly budget right away.

    1. Invest more.

    Take the time this year to become an active participant in the management of your wealth. Set up a meeting to speak with your advisor and make sure your investment mix has an appropriate level of risk and growth potential. Make sure your investment mix still meets your needs and does not need to be rebalanced. Also the beginning of a new year is a great time to update your advisor on any big changes that have occurred in your life such as a new job or you moved to a new home.

    1. Pay down debt.

    You probably have a variety of debt, like most Canadians do, consisting of a variety of things like student loans, credit card balances, car loans and mortgages. You probably have a large portion of your income already dedicated to your monthly debt payments. You should take a look at your account statements and see which of your debts you are paying the highest interest on. Try to make the highest interest debts your focus for repayment.

    1. Create an emergency fund.

    If you are just using room on a credit card or a line of credit to use as an emergency fund, you are probably in a vicious cycle. By creating an emergency fund, you can rely on that money when something comes up (like the furnace breaking down) as opposed to relying on increasing debt. You should have at least 3 months of expenses covered in your emergency fund account.

    1. Stick to your budget.

    Trying to navigate your financial life without a budget is like trying to drive a car without a gas gauge and odometer. You will never know if you can make it your next fill-up without running out. A budget can help you allocate your funds between essential categories such as essential spending, retirement savings and short-term savings. If you have a set budget, it will be easy to get into a cash flow routine that will help you fix your finances in the long-term.

    Start off the New Year on the right track by just taking a few minutes of your time to actually look at your finances. Stop just opening bills and reading the minimum balance due every month. Take charge of your finances and start the New Year with financial peace of mind.

    To help kick start your New Year, here are some additional daily reminders which might come in handy throughout 2016:

    12 Daily Reminders

    1.       The past cannot be changed.
    2.       Opinions don’t define your reality.
    3.       Everyone’s journey is different.
    4.       Things always get better with time.
    5.       Judgements are a confession of character.
    6.       Overthinking will lead to sadness.
    7.       Happiness is found within.
    8.       Positive thoughts create positive things.
    9.       Smiles are contagious.
    10.     Kindness is free.
    11.     You only fail if you quit.
    12.     What goes around, comes around.
    –          Vex King | bonvitastyle.com

    *Source: Fidelity Investments. 10 Resolutions for 2016 – and how to get started. Dec 8, 2015. Web.











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  • Ward Report 6: Planning for a Higher Education

    4 August 2015

    Did you know that now 2 out of every 3 jobs require some form of post-secondary education? College and university are more important than ever before and it is no secret that the cost of post-secondary education is rising. By planning in advance, you can make the dream of a higher education for your child, grandchild, niece, nephew or yourself possible.

    As with all financial goals, the best way to save for a higher education is by working with your financial advisor. Your advisor will be able to help quantify your education-savings needs, looking at the various options, in order to best develop a plan that balances your education-savings goals with your other financial priorities.cropped education savings plan example

    Although putting off saving for education is always tempting (especially if it seems like a distant priority), but the best way to make education more affordable is to start saving right away. By starting to set money aside for education early on, you will have to save less money overall due to compound growth.


    According to Statistics Canada, the 2014/2015 average annual cost of tuition for a full-time student is $5,959.00. Now, if you child (or grandchild) wants to be a lawyer, pharmacist, doctor or dentist, the average annual cost of tuition can range anywhere from $10,508.00 to an astronomical $18,187.00!

    In order to start saving for higher education, you first need to understand what your education saving options are. Click on the link below to see a printable version of the various education savings plans options available.

    Education Savings Plan Options Chart

    Accounting for the cost of tuition and related fees in your education savings plan is a great place to start; however, these fees represent only 1/3 of the expenses that students face each year! Add in accommodation, food, transportation, books and computers, and leisure, and the costs associated with higher education begins to increase substantially.

    A student can avoid crippling debt, by family members developing a plan of action early on in the student’s lifetime. In order to help your advisor do their best possible job to help you, be sure to:

    • Provide an accurate and complete picture of your current situation as well as future aspirations; and
    • Review any recommendations, address any concerns and ask questions so that you are completely comfortable before your plan is implemented.

    Also, remember to keep your advisor informed of any changes that could influence your plan when they happen so that you advisor can recommend the appropriate adjustments before it is too late to do anything about it.

    After all, always remember that a post-secondary education is not just about improving your children’s earning potential and standard of living. It also contributes to their personal growth and broadens their horizons.

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  • The Ward Report 2: Life Changing Events

    30 August 2014


    Over the course of the journey we call life; there will undoubtedly be important events that will impact the course of our lives from this day forward. These different happenings will alter our lives as we know it and we will be forced to take a detour off our chosen life path. There are events that we willingly choose and we anticipate that will change our lives assumingly for the better: a wedding, a new career, starting a family, purchasing a new home or retirement. Or there are also events that we are plunged into without warning that threaten to drown us: a breakup, job loss, an incurable diagnosis, or divorce.

    Whether the event has a positive or negative impact on you, it will most certainly change your financial plan. Any time a major life event happens, you should consult with your financial/insurance planner to ensure that you are still on track to achieve any set goals or to adapt your goals to your new circumstances.

    Use the chart below to determine the probability and impact certain life events will have in relation to your life path.

    file_pdf Download this chart as a PDF
    Life EventProbability (High-Low)Impact (High-Low)
    Change in living arrangements
    Moving in with a partner
    Buying a home
    Major purchase
    Having children
    Adopting a child
    Paying for children’s education
    Children leaving home
    Children returning home
    New job
    Job Loss
    Major change in finances
    Starting a business
    Legal issues
    Personal health issues
    Family health issues
    Caring for parents
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  • The value of advice

    17 August 2014

    You don’t need to be a financial expert to make informed financial choices — an advisor can help. Get Prepared.

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