David Christianson

  • Be creative this Christmas to avoid credit card debt

    It was Financial Planning Week in Canada this week, just as seasonal shopping starts to pick up big time. I hope you can use some of the important research released this week by the Financial Planning Standards Council of Canada, combined with the tips in this article, to significantly decrease your permanent stress about money, and get through the holiday season unscathed.
  • Protect yourself: always be paranoid

    Last week my daughter received a welcome email from the Canada Revenue agency (CRA) letting her know that thanks to a reassessment, she was going to receive a $545 refund. All she had to do was click a link in the email to confirm her banking information, and the money would be transferred electronically.
  • Good news regarding disability tax credit

    There was good news this week out of Ottawa. No, I'm not referring to the "family tax cut." However, that announced partial income splitting for families with children under 18, the increase to the universal child care benefit, its extension to children between ages six and 18, the increased deduction limit for child care expenses and the children's Fitness tax credit are obviously good news for people with children under 18.
  • Financial literacy: Make it a priority

    This week's weather makes it clear fall is here. Who would've expected that? November is financial-literacy month, with some worthwhile opportunities for you to access advice.
  • Income splitting reduces tax burden

    A headline this week announced the Conservative government might be backing down on a 2011 promise to reduce the income-tax burden on families by allowing income splitting with children. The Tories had been saying they would start reducing income taxes next year, once they had a confirmed budget surplus. Some of this reduction would be through a concept called income splitting. However, a report this week suggests the government may back down on this promise, since income splitting would mostly benefit high-income families. It might do very little for the middle class, which coincidently has more votes.
  • Common online investor mistakes easily avoidable

    This week, I was asked the question, "What are the most common mistakes investors make when investing online? Let me start by saying the mistakes online investors make are simply a turbocharged version of the mistakes all of us make as investors.
  • Snowbirds: Know your rights, responsibilities

    Hmmm... frost on the car this week, geese gathering and fattening up, those are sure signs of fall. That means snowbirds are getting ready to head south. If you are one of those people fortunate enough to spend some of your winter in warmer climates, here are a few tips.
  • Finding purpose is worth far more than money

    A funny thing happened to me last week. Several colleagues and I were invited to lunch to get pitched on donating money to a worthy cause. You know, the free lunch that may end up costing you a month's pay. Many of us have known each other since we were in our 20s, and had gone through endless business and personal challenges and triumphs together over the last three-plus decades. When you are in your 20s and working too hard, you also tend to play hard. You know, The Wolf of Wall Street sort of shenanigans (ha, I could only dream).
  • 'Come on, get happy' works

    Last week, we talked about the critical importance of setting specific, measurable goals when it comes to achieving financial success. Today, we will talk about an unexpected tool and strategy also proven scientifically to improve your chances of success. That tool is happiness.
  • Time to evaluate progress in 2014

    “HAPPY New Year” may sound a little funny with no snow on the ground, but a lot of people consider September the start of a new year, or at least a new season. After what was hopefully a slower pace through the summer, allowing time for reflection and contemplation, September is a great time to review your goals for the year and modify wherever indicated.
  • Ups and downs of dividends

    Would you agree a big reason to buy a business is so it can provide you with regular income, in the form of a share of profits? Now, what if you could buy a business that would pay you this regular cash, but you didn't have to actually work in it?
  • Back-to-school adventure shouldn't involve September credit hangover

    This is the most painful column I write. Columns on taxes or CRA penalties hurt, but taxes are a fact of life. And I can usually suggest ways to reduce taxes.
  • Replacing TFSA money too early will cost you

    The tax-free savings account (TFSA) has become a very, very popular savings vehicle for Canadian taxpayers with over 10 million accounts open at the end of 2013. As you know, there is no tax deduction or immediate benefit for putting money into a TFSA. However, any investment income (interest, dividends and capital gains) earned within the TFSA is tax-free. This has saved taxpayers over $1 billion since 2009, says CRA.
  • Be on guard for bogus iTunes Store receipts

    Over the past while, I purchased some music from the Apple iTunes Store, as have millions of other people around the world. As you likely know, Apple sends you an email with your purchase receipt and confirmation. This is nice a reminder of what you purchased and the amount that will show up on your credit card.
  • Want to save cash on gas? Here is what you should do

    I broke my record this week. That's cause for celebration, on many fronts. What record? The number of minutes I was able to glide with my foot completely off the accelerator on my morning drive to work. Lexie and I glided almost five minutes out of 14, using virtually no gas, and travelled another three minutes with a very light foot, just maintaining speed.
  • Some rare good news from CRA

    In this summer of rain and floods, it was great to get some good news for a change from our friends at the Canada Revenue Agency. Or at least limited good news. This is in the form of a partial simplification of form T1135, Foreign Income Verification Statement, which had unfortunately become very complicated and unwieldy due to changes made in 2013.
  • Interesting to watch as securities world evolves

    This week, we saw federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver announce he is resurrecting Jim Flaherty's initiative to develop a single securities regulator in Canada. Currently, there are 13 securities commissions across the provinces and territories. Issuers of stocks and other investment vehicles needing to raise capital to make the economy grow must therefore have approval from up to 13 entities to legally market their wares everywhere in Canada.
  • Halftime report on markets

    It seems there are always a lot of misconceptions about stock-market performance, its connection with the economy and the general health of the markets. Just last week I heard a couple of people mention all markets were "not doing well." Let's correct that misconception. The fact is 2014 has been a pretty good year so far for the stock and bond markets and not a bad one for the Canadian dollar.
  • New regulations should assist consumers

    On July 15, Phase two of a new investment regulatory framework takes effect. For some investment advisers and consumers, this may mean a big change in their relationship. For others, it may just be business as usual. The initiatives are called CRM, for Client Relationship Model, and Point of Sale (POS) disclosure. The regulatory changes have been developed by the Canadian Securities Authorities (known as the CSA), and will generally be supervised by the Mutual Fund Dealers Association (MFDA) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).
  • Sacrifice now; live better later

    We all know more university and college students are graduating with large amounts of debt. They borrow money to pay rising tuition and other education costs and just to live while going to school. For many, summer is the one opportunity to earn some money, put something away for the fall and hopefully, reduce a bit of debt incurred during the year.
  • Snowbirds on deadline to clarify tax status

    Have you heard the one about the Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Plan? Yeah, the one with the new Entry/Exit Initiative? Far from being the name of the very creative joke, it's a new agreement between the Canadian and American governments to share information on all entries and exits from both countries.
  • Barter: Don't forget taxman

    From time to time, it is my unwelcome role to be the bearer of bad news. I have had to do this in the past, with things such as reminding business people that golf green fees and memberships are not tax deductible, even when incurred to entertain customers. Today, my wet blanket extends to barter transactions. Bartering is arranging one of those wonderful agreements between people or organizations, to provide the service of one for those of another, rather than conducting the transaction with cash.
  • Barter: Don’t forget taxman

    FROM time to time, it is my unwelcome role to be the bearer of bad news. I have had to do this in the past, with things such as reminding business people that golf green fees and memberships are not tax deductible, even when incurred to entertain customers. Today, my wet blanket extends to barter transactions. Bartering is arranging one of those wonderful agreements between people or organizations, to provide the service of one for those of another, rather than conducting the transaction with cash.
  • Budget expands charitable giving

    The federal government budget of 2014 ended up having a potentially large effect on people's tax returns when they die and shortly afterwards. We have previously talked about the elimination of the preferential graduated income tax rates for testamentary trusts after Dec. 31, 2015. Estates will still be allowed the graduated tax rate for 36 months following the date of death, but then will be subject to the top tax rate on any investment income earned.
  • Philanthropy is about more than tax credits

    We usually talk about philanthropy and charitable donations in December, as the income tax deadline for the charitable-donation tax credit approaches. However, a few things have compelled me lately to provide a mid-year reminder that, although Dollars and Sense talks about money all year long, it's not the money that's important, it's what it can do for you, your family and your community.

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