Income tax challenges for the self-employed

By Melanie Buffel, BA Psych, MBA Candidate

iStock_000018832279SmallWhen people choose self-employment, they are often attracted to the challenge and excitement of creating a business they are passionate about. They may look forward to a more flexible work schedule, or the possibility of earning more than they did as an employee. The one thing most people don’t get excited about is keeping track of all their expenses and planning for their income taxes.

If you are self-employed, you need to be aware of a looming tax deadline. Sole proprietors have until June 15th to file (as do their spouses), but their balance owing is due as of April 30th. If you aren’t paid up by then, interest will be charged until you are.

When your numbers are in order, then reach out to the CRA with a proposed plan to pay off your balance owing. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to save the money for the taxes you are incurring on your new income…it’s a classic case of between a rock and a hard spot but with careful planning and focus on generating your target income, it can be done!

Procrastination in handling the financial side of your business can result in frustration, or even panic, as the tax deadline looms. To help, I’ve outlined a few suggestions on what to do if you find yourself unprepared to file this year’s return and what you can do differently going forward.

But first, let’s look at some of the challenges and pitfalls you may encounter as a small business owner.

There are some real tax challenges for the self-employed:

  • Your income may vary month-to-month making it difficult to estimate annual earnings and thus the appropriate tax rate.
  • A varied income also makes it hard to create a cash flow plan.
  • Even if you create a plan it can be difficult to honour it when cash flow is tight.

Then there are the pitfalls of inexperience:

  • Losing track of receipts.
  • Mixing personal expenses with business expenses.
  • No clear sense of how much to set aside for income taxes.
  • Falling behind and still trying to catch up on last year’s taxes owing.
  • Missing the filing deadline and incurring penalties.
  • Not using a bookkeeper or professional accountant to help with your tax preparation/filing.

So what do you do if you find yourself unprepared for this year’s return? Continue reading

Posted in For your information, Money Coaching, Small Business

How to Make the Most of Your Inheritance

By Janet Gray, B.A., B.Admin, CFP®, CHS, EPC, CPCA

Waiting for an inheritance is not a solid financial plan. But the fact is, Stats Canada reports that the total net worth of Canadians over age 65 is $2.18-billion, and much of that legacy will be passed on. Those on the receiving end of a generous bequest have the opportunity to make a real impact on their financial well-being, but only if they make the right choices in the short and long term.

There are many ways to use a large inheritance, and we’ll look at several of them in this article, but whenever you receive any kind of financial windfall, the first thing you need to do is catch your breath.

Take a Deep Breath and Park Your Money

The gift of an inheritance is bound to the sadness of loss. Allow yourself time to grieve. Don’t make important decisions for at least three or four months. Park the assets in a high interest savings account until the emotional fog begins to lift. In fact, parking your money is good advice for any sudden financial windfall. The shock needs to normalize before you make decisions.

When you are ready to make some decisions, they should be made under the umbrella of a comprehensive financial plan.

Here are some of the options to consider. Continue reading

Posted in Ask Your Money Coach, For your information, Money Coaching, Will & Estate Planning

My Financial Advisor is Making More from my Investments Than I Am; What Should I Do?

By Karin Mizgala, Co-Founder and CEO, Money Coaches Canada

Frustration over financial fees

To say that many Canadians are cynical and wary of advice from the financial industry would not be overstating the situation. The idea of hidden fees and commissions buried in investment transactions was tough enough to swallow, but now bank employees are speaking out about sales quota pressures, that lead them to sell you products and services you may not even need.

Last summer the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) introduced Phase 2 of the Client Relationship Model, known as CRM2. As a result, if you have investments, you will be receiving two new reports this year: The Report on Charges and Other Compensation and the Report on Investment Performance. The report names speak to their content, but for a deeper understanding, you can read my article Are You Ready for the Truth About Your Investments.

The CSA wants to ensure that investors are provided with an itemized transparent account of what they are paying in fees, and what commission advisors are being paid and by whom. This information wasn’t completely unavailable before CRM2, but it was more difficult to obtain. The Investment Performance report endeavors to present a measure of how well your investments are doing, but unfortunately, without a comparative context, such as the performance of the underlying market, the numbers aren’t as meaningful as they should be.

The biggest eye opener, for many Canadians, will be the realization that the person making the most return on their investment may be their advisor. It isn’t that fees are inherently wrong, but it’s important to know whether or not you are receiving value for your money. Continue reading

Posted in Investing, Money Coaching

How Do I Take Money From My RSP in Retirement?

By Tom Feigs, CFP®, CET

Withdrawing retirement savings

What do you think when you hear the term RSP? If you are like many people, you probably think: contributions. Certainly the banking industry focus is on RSP sales, because that’s where they make their money. But the point of all this saving is to provide for your future. How you withdraw money from your RSP will have a big impact on your retirement.

In this article we’ll look at how you can create a strategy to ensure you make the best choices for your situation.

Don’t Do Anything Without a Plan

Before you can make decisions regarding RSP withdrawals, you need to create as clear a picture as possible of your retirement income and expenses. You can do this on your own, but it can be daunting. You may want to consider working with a professional.

If you have registered and non-registered accounts, you may have seen conflicting information about where it is best to withdraw from first. It used to be accepted wisdom to defer RSP/RIF withdrawals as long as possible, but now balanced withdrawals from various accounts is often recommended. With a better understanding of your needs, creating a withdrawal game plan becomes more achievable.

But before we get to an ‘exit strategy’ for your RSP funds, let’s have a closer look at the basics. Continue reading

Posted in Ask Your Money Coach, For your information, Retirement savings

I Make a Good Income, But Can’t Get Out of Debt. What Should I Do Differently?

By Kathryn Mandelcorn, FMA

You did all the right things. You went to school and earned a good education. You’ve worked hard and been promoted. You earn upwards of $100,000 a year; yet increasing debt has your stomach in knots.

You are not alone. According to statistics Canada, higher income is associated with a higher debt load. Households earning at least $100,000 had an average debt of $172,400. Compare that to households earning between $50,000 and $100,000, which had an average debt of $95,400.

It doesn’t have to be this way. But before you can turn things around, it’s important to understand how you arrived where you are.

How Did I Get Here?

Technology has changed the world dramatically in the last 20 years. In many ways for the better, but the internet has also put shopping at our fingertips and smartphones keep us constantly connected to our work, and the work and lifestyles of everyone around us.

This new world has given rise to three of the primary reasons so many people are in debt despite earning a good salary: increased expectations of what we “deserve,” reduced downtime, and the erosion of debt stigma. Let’s look at the effect of each one. Continue reading

Posted in Ask Your Money Coach, Debt

How Divorce Can Affect Your Retirement

By Annie Kvick, B.Ed, CFP®

The ending of a marriage is an unfortunate reality for many Canadians, it creates emotional upheaval for both partners and any children involved. But studies have shown that it generally impacts a woman’s financial well-being longer and more significantly than it does a man’s. This imbalance can have serious consequences for women approaching retirement.

Today is International Women’s Day, and this year’s theme is #BeBoldForChange. Organizers want us all to take bold action in our spheres of influence, toward gender parity. An important initiative; but I believe that it is equally important for women to take bold action within their own lives—to be financially secure and confident, ready for whatever life circumstances unfold. Continue reading

Posted in Financial Literacy, Relationship to money, Retirement savings

Ask a Money Coach: Which tax software would you recommend?

Tax Time


Around this time of year our Coaches are often asked which tax software they would recommend to individuals who would like to file their own taxes online.  Here is a round-up of responses on three of the most popular options: Turbo Tax, Studio Tax and Ufile.

It is also important to note that if you are filing online you must use a program that is recognized for use on Netfile by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). For a list of all the recognized programs visit the CRA websiteContinue reading

Posted in Ask Your Money Coach

How Do I Break Up With My Investment Advisor?

By Steve Bridge, B.A. (Hons.), FPSC Level 1®

How did you choose your investment advisor? If you are like many Canadians, your advisor is the one who had an open slot when you called your bank for an appointment, three, five or even 10+ years ago. Or perhaps you met your financial advisor in another haphazard way; your best friend’s son sells investments, or your boss’s daughter is a financial advisor. But things are changing and you deserve better.

Canadians want to know that they are getting investment advice from someone who understands their unique situation and needs, someone who has their best interests at heart, and someone who is their financial ally. Canadians need investment advisors that are paid fairly and deliver advice that moves them closer to their financial goals.

The financial advice you follow today will significantly impact your life in retirement. That’s why breaking up with your investment advisor—could be the most important financial decision you make this year.

But before you act, it’s important to understand what you need from a financial advisor relationship, and how to best make a change if necessary. This three step process provides everything you need to make an informed, thoughtful decision. Continue reading

Posted in Ask Your Money Coach, Investing

Maintain Marital Bliss by Following These 5 Money Management Principles

By Melanie Buffel, B.A. Psych, MBA Candidate

Marriages suffer when there is financial stress. Sometimes they fail. In Canada, where the divorce rate is 48%, money issues are often cited as a contributing factor in a relationship’s downfall. But there is so much that you can do to start your wedded life on solid financial footing, and it all revolves around honest communication.

The vow, for richer or for poorer, shouldn’t be the first financial discussion you have with your partner before saying I do. 

With wedding expenses in the thousands of dollars, it’s not surprising that money issues start causing tension even before the big day. But a couple may naively assume that it’s all part of the wedding planning stress and that things will settle down once they fly off on their honeymoon.

The truth is, the first three years of marriage are fraught with the expenses of setting up a home, and establishing a career, coupled with blending spending and saving habits that may be very different. Even couples that lived together in financial harmony before marriage, can be surprised by financial differences now that they are planning a future. Many people assume that once they are married they will have the same priorities; when in fact one partner may want to enjoy more travel and social events before they “settle down,” and the other may want to trim expenses and save for a home.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner –a time when many couples get engaged– here are five ways to make money a point of foundation in your marriage:

  • Start the conversation well before the wedding;
  • Understand where the money goes;
  • Agree who pays for what;
  • Determine who will manage the money; and
  • Keep on talking

Let’s have a closer look at each. Continue reading

Posted in Budgeting and Cash Flow, Money Coaching, Relationship to money

Emotional Roadblocks to Financial Happiness – 3 Steps to a Breakthrough

By: Barbara Knoblach, PhD., FPSC Level 1 ®

“These are my New Year’s resolutions…”

We all start the year with a collection of resolutions to improve our lives. We want to lose weight to fit into new clothes; we want to join a gym to improve our fitness; and we want to enhance our financial situation to provide more security for our families and ourselves.

But while our plans have the best of intentions, many people face emotional roadblocks that detour, or completely derail, the follow-through required to achieving these goals.

This is especially true in the area of personal finances. While financial decisions can be very analytical – based on facts, figures, charts and graphs – many of these decisions come face-to-face with emotional roadblocks that overtly affect the decision-making process.

Fear, Shame and Guilt

Three of the most troublesome emotions are fear, shame and guilt. People fear they do not have the knowledge to make wise financial decisions. They are embarrassed that others may be more successful than they are. They feel the guilt that they cannot provide financially for their loved ones – or even themselves.

The negative emotions some people feel towards their personal financial situation often prevents them from seeking professional help. Unfortunately, they cannot bear the thought of opening up about their finances to an outsider – they are simply too embarrassed.

As a Certified Money Coach, I employ many different tactics to help clients overcome these emotional roadblocks that stand in their way to improved financial well-being. Continue reading

Posted in Money Coaching, Relationship to money