Joel Schlesinger

  • Getting educated about RESPs

    It's the best savings deal going, hands-down. But many Canadians who are eligible to use it, don't. The registered education savings plan -- or RESP -- has been around since 1998, luring us with grants to save for our children's and grandchildren's post-secondary education. Contributions grow untaxed while attracting a 20 per cent top-up grant from the federal government.
  • Getting educated about RESPs

    It's the best savings deal going, hands down. The problem is many Canadians who are eligible to use it, don't. The registered education savings plan -- or RESP -- has been around since 1998, incentivizing us with grants to save for our children's and grandchildren's post-secondary education. Contributions grow untaxed while attracting a 20 per cent top-up grant from the federal government.
  • Double-checking worth it

    Walter and Laura have put in the legwork to retire in a couple of years. In their late 50s, they have been diligently budgeting and have annual expenses less than $30,000, allowing them to save a lot of their $6,600 monthly combined net income.
  • Paying it forward to yourself

    Like a lot of people, Connan Friesen is looking at the coming month as a new chapter. The advent of the school year represents a new journey for the 22-year-old who is starting his first year of university this fall. As it turns out, many Canadians also view the new school year as the unofficial start of something else: a clean slate for saving.
  • The 'sandwich' dilemma

    Jed and Leah are truly part of the 'sandwich' generation. Preparing for retirement, the couple are also spending much of their time helping their aging parents and an adult daughter to boot. "They're in their late 80s, so they need help," Jed says. "Our daughter's a single mother so it's basically the same thing."
  • The problem with pension plans

    Besides the obvious benefit of having a job -- money in exchange for services provided -- one of the most coveted other forms of compensation is a pension plan. The idea employers and employees jointly contribute to the retirement stew pot is an enticing carrot, often a deciding factor for highly skilled and sought-after workers. Still, many Canadians are not part of any work pension plan -- outside of the ubiquitous Canada Pension Plan. Only about four in 10 workers today are members of plans through their employers. Even though they're likely better off than those who don't have any work pension plan at all, their retirement picture isn't without a few stormy clouds on the horizon.
  • Child's play

    Bob and Linda feel they have just been keeping their heads above water for the last few years. Parents of three young children, including twins, they've largely been living on one income. "My wife used to have a good job working for the government, and then we found out we're having twins, so she had to quit that job to stay home because the daycare would have been more than her earnings," said Bob, a manager in the financial-services industry who is in his late 30s.
  • The long, long view

    It's safe to say many Manitobans aren't familiar with Leo de Bever, the CEO of AIMCo. For that matter, most people have no idea what AIMCo is.
  • The risks of being conservative

    The retirement finances have gone pretty smoothly for Don and Marie. They are in their 60s and have a net annual income of more than $52,000, and that seems to cover all their needs.
  • Borrowing against home to invest: pros and cons

    Not all debt is bad debt. You've probably heard that before. After all, most people use leverage to their advantage with the largest purchase of their lives: a home. And apparently, the message having a little red on the ledger can be beneficial is getting through to many Canadians -- at least the high-net-worth ones.
  • Overspending could ruin plans

    Lynn should have little to worry about as she nears retirement. The health-care professional's children are grown up and out of the house. She already collects one work pension worth more than $500 a month, and the 57-year-old currently works two government jobs, so she can expect two more defined-benefit pension payments when she retires at age 60 -- though she's uncertain how much she will receive.
  • 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).

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