Joel Schlesinger

  • The globetrotter's portfolio: Canadian investors should seek returns beyond their own backyard

    In the grand scheme of the investment universe, the Canadian market is not insignificant, but it does still represent a small sliver of all the opportunities out there. Yet many Canadians are happy to stick to their own backyard, although they don't totally avoid other markets.
  • Couple struggles to cope with disability

    The last decade hasn't been kind to Gina and Mike. For the better part of it, Gina has been struggling with a health issue that has kept her off her job at a Crown corporation. Earning about $2,600 a month in disability benefits, Gina's income has helped pay rent and other household costs, especially with Mike being self-employed earning a variable income that averages about $2,500 a month.
  • Expert checkup

    Mike and Molly endured a lot of financial hardship before righting the ship. But today they are meticulous planners -- even creating a spreadsheet to calculate their income in retirement that's more than 10 years away. "We went through some very lean years," says Mike, a government worker in his mid-50s.
  • The game of risk

    You don't have to ask around a whole lot before finding someone who has a disdain for insurance. It's costly. It's a scam. They'll try to weasel out of covering you when you have to make a claim.
  • Arrested retirement

    The term "Freedom 55" is everywhere. And most people dream of retiring as soon as possible, with age 55 the milestone for an early exit from the workforce. But the dream of early retirement is slipping away for a lot of us. Fewer workers, about three in 10, have defined-benefit pensions -- the gold standard of retirement finance.
  • Trading places

    Beth and Jim are swapping roles. Jim had been working full time in administration in the private sector while Beth -- a health-care professional -- stayed home on maternity leave after the birth of their first child.
  • Passively intelligent

    ‘Smart beta’ is a term you might not have heard about but are likely to hear mentioned a lot in the near future — and not just in this column. It’s a relatively new investment strategy that has been a buzz word among the pros in the industry for the last decade.
  • To own or not to own?

    Katie and Louis are facing a seemingly age-old financial dilemma for young families: To buy or not to buy a home? “What we’re looking for is some financial advice of what would be the consequences of buying a home versus renting,” says Louis, who is in his late 30s and only recently started working as a civil servant, earning about $44,000 annually. “We’re just not really sure what to do.”
  • The fine art of backyard bargains

    It's not about the money. It's about making room in their closets. On the first truly summery day of the year, five 20-something women bring passing traffic to a halt on a sleepy elm-shaded street in River Heights simply with the unwanted clothing they had up for grabs at a yard sale.
  • RRSP meltdown

    Suzanne is a financially footloose and fancy-free retiree. Her teacher's pension, OAS and CPP provide her with about $50,000 in cash flow annually, so she rarely has to dip into $126,000 in savings.
  • Feeling the market

    Are you feeling lucky? It's not just a question Dirty Harry might ask a so-called punk. As an investor, you might want to ask yourself the same question when you are about to pour money into the stock market.
  • The Freedom 56 plan

    John and Jane have a big financial decision ahead of them. The married couple is trying to figure out if they're on firm enough financial footing for John to retire from his job in the civil service once he qualifies for his pension next year. "You never know how much is enough," said Jane, 51, who plans to continue working part time herself until she's 60. "Once retired, he hopes to find something part time because he is still young and doesn't want to sit around home."
  • Cash-flow hazards ahead?

    Mindy works while Rob, a pensioner, waits for her to retire. It's a situation they'd both like to end soon.
  • Dissecting the 'frog'

    We all participate in the stock market one way or another. While we rely on it almost daily to create wealth, it's probably safe to say a lot of us don't really know that much about the stock market's mechanics. Yet maybe you've had questions lately, especially in light of Michael Lewis's new book Flash Boys, an investigative look at the world of high-frequency trading (HFT).
  • Four weddings and no funeral: Be a good guest without killing your finances

    It's good to be in demand. As an owner of a local marketing firm, no one understands this better than Sarah Zaharia. But there can be a downside to being popular: You might get invited to a lot of weddings. While that's not a bad thing -- what could be better than celebrating new love? -- the cost of attending other people's matrimonial moments can start to add up.
  • Laid off: Is it time to relax?

    Charlie was laid off recently and knows his prospects for finding comparable employment in his mid-50s are slim. A former executive, he still has another year of severance before he has to make a decision: Does he look for work or retire?
  • Caution pays

    Tried and true -- that's what many experienced market-watchers might say about investing for the long term in stocks that pay dividends. Certainly, plenty of proof exists to back up that approach. Year after year, some of the world's most established corporations pay shareholders an increasing dividend.
  • Having the money talk

    Teacher Dan Beettam tries to talk as much as possible about personal finance to his students at Valley Gardens Middle School in East Kildonan. For the most part, however, he can only serve up money-minded wisdom as part of his signature 'thoughts of the day' at the start of each class. "About 15 times a year, I try to make the thought of the day money-related," says the math and social studies teacher.
  • Blended family, bending finances

    It took Natalie Bell two years to come around before she would go out on a date with her fiancé, Michal Jarzyna. A single mom with two daughters, the 38-year-old human resources manager owned a home and had been used to getting by nicely on her own. "I was kind of like 'Hmmm, bachelor has no worries and parties all the time. I don't want none of that,' but somehow he convinced me," she says with a laugh.
  • The supernatural retirement plan

    Some people dream of the good life in California or Arizona, but Jack and Diane's retirement dreams lean more to the supernatural side. British Columbia, that is.
  • Jacks cracks tax act

    If there were celebrity experts on Canada's tax system, Evelyn Jacks might be one of them. The Winnipeg author has written dozens of books on the subject and is renowned nationally as one of the leading experts on our ever-shifting Income Tax Act. Her books have become almost a rite of spring. Right when many of us are trying to make sense of all the receipts, tax forms and other paperwork to prepare our returns for the April 30 deadline, her latest edition of Essential Tax Facts, is often hitting store shelves.
  • Deceivers and believers

    Agnes Chambers-Glenn looks over her shoulder a lot these days. The 81-year-old author and retired educator fears her latest independently published book has kicked up a hornet's nest of trouble. Called Double Deceit: A True Story of a Nigerian Scam, it chronicles the ordeal of a close friend, a retired medical doctor, who lost more than $35,000 to African fraudsters, and how, with police help, they lured one of the suspects to Winnipeg where he was arrested and successfully prosecuted.
  • Help wanted

    Carry and Drew have a lot of things they would like to accomplish in the next decade and a half. The problem is they only have so much money to go around. "We need to be able to budget our money so we can save to fix our house, travel and have a nest egg," says Carry, who earns about $35,000 a year as a health-care worker.
  • Real estate: hot or not?

    Few people with their money on their mind haven't been talking about real estate in recent years. After all, it's the ultimate tangible asset many of us own, regardless of whether we are saving for retirement or not.
  • Couple seeks to save enough for child's future and early retirement

    Tory and Ralph have a three-pronged savings strategy for the future. They set aside money every week into their RRSPs, TFSAs and an RESP. But they wonder if the $750 in savings they're setting aside every month is enough to fund their child's post-secondary education and allow them to retire early.


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