Let’s just say this — in all-out ground war between Canada and the U.S., Canada just can’t compete. After all, Canada’s defended by a few notoriously out-of-date military aircraft, and for some time, the country’s largest fleet of submarines was making a tour around a pirate ship in a shopping mall.
Of course, aside from a hard-fought game between the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks, there isn’t much animosity between the two countries. After all, we have a lot in common. We share an official language, we have access to the same media and, in many cases, we share a lot of the same values. And here’s another thing we have in common — in January 2012, LIMRA, an association of insurance companies, released a survey of pre-retirees in both countries and found that about half in each said they weren’t confident they could maintain their desired lifestyle during retirement. It’s an interesting statistic because planning for retirement is quite different in the U.S. as compared to Canada.
So, in the spirit of friendly cross border competition, I decided to put Canada and the U.S. head-to-head. Which country is best for retirees? Check out a few key factors in my new post on WiseBread.
Canada’s benchmark interest rate has been at 1 percent for more than two years and, as a result, a lot of Canadians have gotten pretty comfortable floating along on a cloud of cheap debt. Unfortunately, most economists agree that the air will go out of that cushy lifestyle – perhaps as early as this year – when interest rates rise. The problem is, most of us are just so darned comfy, we haven’t given much thought to what a rate increase could mean to our finances and financial well-being. In other words, many of us are living in a dream…and deliberately ignoring the fact that we may be drifting toward a serious financial wake-up call.
Are you living on the edge? Find out what areas of your financial life would be affected by an interest rate increase and what it could cost you in my new article on GoldenGirlFinance.com.
For the stock market, December wasn’t the most wonderful time of the year. Economic instability persists in Europe, the U.S. is still trying to dig itself out of a recession – and it’s teetering on the edge of a “fiscal cliff” that could tank the country’s stock market, and possibly ours as well. But here’s the thing about the stock market: someone always wins. When the job market gets tough, discount grocery stores thrive; when the housing market booms, so do home improvement stores; when people stop going to movies, they start watching them on Netflix. So, while the Canadian stock market was pretty tepid in 2012, some stocks enjoyed runaway price increases. We’ve selected a few from the list of top movers in 2012. Our criteria: To highlight some of the key industries that are succeeding and avoid stocks that trade below $5 per share. Check it out in my new post on GoldenGirlFinance.com: http://goldengirlfinance.com/inspiration/?post_id=1094 (Note that you have to register for the new site. Don’t worry, they don’t send spam!)
Whew! The holiday season is winding down, the whirlwind of festive parties is drawing to a close, the Christmas tree is losing its needles – and we’re looking toward the New Year! Frankly, it’s hard not to wonder where all the time went. Has it really been a year already?
Well, yes, it has, and we’ve combed through a year’s worth of financial news to prove it. It’s been said that you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been, and we think there are a few lessons to be found in the top financial stories from the past year. So check out what happened in the world of money in 2012 in my new post on GoldenGirlFinance.ca: http://bit.ly/WLdUXG
Have you been doing any investing lately? If not, you should be. Despite the market’s ups and downs in recent years, it’s still a far better place for your money than under the mattress. But (and here’s the catch) only if you do it right. As it turns out, a lot of Canadians are making some serious – and costly – mistakes. In fact, they’re all laid out in gruesome statistical detail in the Canadian Securities Administrators’ recently released 2012 CSA Investor Index.
So what are so many of us doing wrong? Check out the biggest mistakes Canadian investors are making now in my new article on GoldenGirlFinance.ca: http://bit.ly/YvV3hC
When Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) were rolled out in 2009, they came with a lot of fanfare. Earn interest tax-free! Contribute up to $5,000 per year! Take it out whenever you want! The problem is that while TFSAs really do come with all these perks, they also come with complicated fine print and a huge number of options, which has left many prospective investors confused, apathetic and occasionally out of pocket.
But before you write off TFSAs for being too much trouble, we’ll let you in on a little investing secret: rules can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. Becoming a good investor is all about learning how to play the game.
Here we’ll take a look at some of the most common TFSA traps investors fall into. Learn to avoid these and you’ll be able to enjoy all the perks that TFSAs provide – while skipping the pitfalls. Find out more in my new post on GoldenGirlFinance.ca: http://bit.ly/SMeEtB
When it comes to Tax-Free Savings Accounts (commonly known as TFSAs), we’ve got good news…and not-so-good news. First the good – nearly half of all Canadians now have a TFSA (it’s about time!). Unfortunately, only 21 percent of them have an investment-style account, and most are only using their TFSAs to store extra funds, according to a recent CIBC poll.
While we’re all for saving in any form, there’s one big problem with failing to invest your TFSA: you’re missing out on its benefits. That’s because unlike an RRSP, a TFSA is funded with after-tax dollars. Its claim to fame is that any growth and gains on your investment – such as capital gains, interest and dividends – are protected from all tax. As such, if you don’t rack up some interest and returns, you’re missing out on the TFSA’s tax-free advantages.
Now, we’d venture to guess that many of you aren’t investing because you’re confused about the investment options for a TFSA. Well, throw that excuse away! Get the rundown of all the choices you have at your disposal to truly put your money to work in my new article on GoldenGirlFinance.ca: http://bit.ly/NkA7a0
Foreclosures are big news in the U.S. The real estate crisis is dragging on, and economic problems are keeping the default wheel turning. As a result, foreclosures are becoming a new kind of American dream, one with big winners and big losers; the stuff of exuberant headlines and popular reality TV shows. In the U.S., foreclosure properties can sell for rock-bottom prices. And when we say rock bottom, we mean full houses for the kind of price that wouldn’t even buy a new compact car.
Amazing, right? Well, don’t rush out and look for a foreclosed property just yet, because in Canada, a whole different set of rules and laws prevent these steep discounts. Find out how foreclosure works, and why for Canadians, a foreclosed property is often more trouble than it’s worth in my new post on GoldenGirlFinance.ca: http://bit.ly/PUgku8
In the U.S., some are calling it the worst financial crisis in decades. Even in Canada, we hear about it every day: foreclosures, unemployment, corporate corruption, bankruptcy and general economic decline. In the stock market, that all adds up to one thing – the big “V” or volatility – and often of the extreme variety. When portfolios start losing value and the news offers up little more than doom and gloom, it can be enough to make you want to get into bed, pull the covers over your head, and stay there until it all blows over. Which, as it turns out, isn’t far from what a lot of investors have been doing.
But just because the stock market is increasingly starting to feel like the wrong side of the tracks doesn’t mean it’s time to move on to another investment. That’s because in many cases, a bad market provides good opportunities – ones that you aren’t likely to find in other types of investments. And while you don’t have to invest in U.S. stocks, of all the markets out there they still provide one of the best opportunities for investors. Think of it akin to buying the best house in a bad neighbourhood. You need somewhere to park your assets, and no matter what’s going on outside, you’ll still be safer, warmer and happier than your neighbours. Read more in my new post on GoldenGirlFinance.ca: http://bit.ly/OkPXfx
Feeling squeezed? That’s the sentiment of many Canadians over the age of 45. This so-called “sandwich generation” is caught between caring for aging parents and supporting grown-up kids – and their high levels of debt and ultra-low retirement savings rates are only increasing the pressure. But while the media often laments about the plight of those approaching retirement, is this generation really stuck or are they just spinning their wheels? Read more in my new article on GoldenGirlFinance.ca: http://bit.ly/L3NUBn