Can money make you happy? Try giving some away.

By Sabine Lay

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843. Most people know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly man who transforms his life after three spirits teach him the joy of giving. It seems Dickens was way ahead of the research on money and happiness.

Dr. Elizabeth Dunn, an associate professor of psychology at University of British Columbia, and Michael Norton, an associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, wrote an article in which their research shows that “people with a comfortable living standard are happier than people living in poverty.” No surprise. But once people reach a “comfortable standard” of income, which falls somewhere around $75,000 a year in the United States, additional income doesn’t create additional happiness. Continue reading

Posted in Money Coaching, Relationship to money

Give The Gift of Financial Independence this Holiday Season

By Noel D’SouzaP.Eng, CFP®

Give The Gift of Financial Independence this Holiday Season

The holidays are a time of giving, but many Canadians are tired of spending money on “stuff” that is soon forgotten by kids and adults alike. As a result, there is growing interest in gifts that are more meaningful.

The gift of a shared experience—dinner, movies, trips, concerts or sporting events—has gained popularity over the last few years. Shared activities create memories that are priceless and last long after the event is over. And that’s what many people want to give; gifts with lasting impact.

But if impact is what you’re after, consider gifts that go beyond good memories; consider simple ways to add to your children’s or grandchildren’s financial security.

Here are some options that you probably won’t find on anybody’s wish list, but may be the best gift they receive. Continue reading

Posted in Investing, Kids and Money, Money Coaching

Financial Literacy in Action

By Melanie Buffel, BA Psych, MBA Candidate

November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada and this is a wonderful opportunity to learn from each other’s experience, sharing our knowledge and feelings about money.

There are so many financial concepts, products and services that one of our goals as Money Coaches is to increase each client’s financial knowledge and skills.  We intend that after our work together is complete, clients have a financial direction and plan, are confident making financial decisions and know what questions to ask when buying products and services. Financial literacy is power.

When people are in what I call the “Money Fog,” where they feel overwhelmed by the details and choices in front of them, the numbers on a spreadsheet or in a bank statement feel disconnected from their life and behaviours. Together we take action to clear that fog and make sense of the numbers, with decisions driven by goals and a clear path to achieve them. Financial literacy is about more than the difference between an RRSP and a TFSA, (although that’s important to understand too). Financial literacy is about clarity around your goals and a feeling of connection to your money. Continue reading

Posted in Financial Literacy, Money Coaching, Relationship to money

I’m Fed Up with Paying High Fees; Should I Manage My Own Portfolio?

By Karin Mizgala, Co-Founder and CEO

I’m Fed Up with Paying High Fees; Should I Manage My Own Portfolio?

It’s been over a year since the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) implemented phase 2 of the Client Relationship Model, known as CRM2. If you have investments, you will have received two reports in 2017; the first one itemizing the advisory fees and commissions you have paid, and a second report with information on how well your investments have performed. (You can read more about these two reports in my article Are You Ready for the Truth About Your Investments).

The first report, The Report on Charges and Other Compensation, left some Canadians surprised and frustrated at just how much they were paying, and that figure doesn’t even include the larger portion of mutual fund MERs paid as management fees, which won’t be disclosed under CRM2. We must remember that a fee isn’t inherently bad if you are receiving value for the money, but are we as Canadians receiving value? Is the answer to high fees, managing your own portfolio?

Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading

Posted in Investing, Money Coaching, Retirement savings

Should I take CPP at age 60?

By Barbara Knoblach, PhD

Mature couple walking in countryside

The long summer evenings are over. The kids are back at school; homework, lessons and sports practice have begun to fill the family calendar again. Summer holidays and backyard BBQs are now just photo memories on our phones and social media accounts. But that’s OK. September brings its own “fresh start” energy. It’s a time to look toward new challenges at work, winter vacations and even plans for next summer. Because, really, what is all our hard work for, if not, at least in part, to afford time with friends and family?

In fact, as you ease into a busier fall schedule, it’s a great opportunity to pause and remember why you work hard, and to recommit to your life goals—including your important retirement goals. Who doesn’t dream of the day when all four seasons are theirs to shape and enjoy?

But retirement looks very different to everyone, and one of the most important things to consider when planning yours, is the optimal time to apply for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits. All it takes is a bit of calculated foresight, to make the decision that will best suit your circumstances.

Here’s a look at some basics:

Canada Pension Plan benefits can be drawn as early as age 60 (reduced 0.6% for each month before 65) or as late as age 70 (increased 0.7% for each month after 65).

The average life expectancy for Canadians is age 80 for men and 84 for women. Statistics Canada predicts a continued rise in life expectancy of roughly two years over the next 15 years.

Things to consider:

Life expectancy

Contemplating your mortality may feel uncomfortable, but your health and whether or not longevity is a family trait, are things to consider when making your decision.

If you take your CPP starting at age 60, your breakeven point with someone who waits until age 65 is when you both turn 74. Confused? Let me put it another way; if Mary takes her CPP at 60 and Brenda takes hers at 65, Mary’s monthly CPP payment will be 36% lower than Brenda’s, but she will collect five years longer. They will be 74 when Brenda pulls ahead of Mary for overall amount collected. Continue reading

Posted in Ask Your Money Coach, For your information

Financial Literacy Starts at Home

By Sheila Walkington, Co-Founder and CFO Money Coaches Canada

When it comes to topics of money and Canadians, Money   Coaches Canada has a great vantage point. Through our interactions with clients, our involvement with the media, our  frequent blog posts and our social media connections—we are in the privileged position of hearing Canadians’ hopes, interests, aspirations and concerns related to money and personal finance.

Over the years, we have written extensively on nearly every topic related to personal money management. One of the topics that elicits the greatest response is kids and money. And the comment we hear most is: “I wish I had learned to handle money sooner.”

When it comes to teaching kids about money, there are a lot of different opinions on how, and where (at school or at home?) it should be done. But there is agreement on one thing; kids need a financial education so that they can make intelligent choices about money at every stage of life. Continue reading

Posted in Kids and Money, Money Coaching, Relationship to money

Don’t Let Back to School Break the Bank

By Karen Richardson, FPSC Level 1® and Christine White, P.Eng., FPSC Level 1®

The back to school cliché is that kids dread it and parents are gleefully counting the hours. But in reality, lots of kids are excited to go back to school (albeit an excitement that usually fades with the first homework assignment) and many parents dread September because it feels like open season on their bank accounts. Back to school spending seems to escalate every year, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You may not be able to keep your kids excited about school, but saving on back to school expenses is possible with some planning.

Back to school basics

Don’t start from scratch

A costly mistake many parents make is buying everything new. School ended roughly 8 weeks ago. It is entirely likely that much of what your children wore last spring still fits them. The same goes for school supplies; rulers, binders, folders, pencil cases, calculators, erasers, etc… are often in fine shape for the new school year. Before you head to the mall make an inventory of what you already have.

Kids don’t need everything on the first day

Even if your stock taking reveals that the kids will need several new items to get through the year, they won’t likely need winter boots in the first several weeks. Keep purchases to the essentials by building on what they have and then start watching for sales. The holidays are just around the corner and adding to the kids’ wardrobe through birthday and Christmas gifts is also a great idea. Continue reading

Posted in Budgeting and Cash Flow, Money Coaching

Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor

By Noel D’Souza, CFP®

iStock_000043073486_MediumGetting good financial advice in Canada is a tricky matter – trickier than it should be, in my opinion. The main challenges facing a seeker of financial advice come down to:

  • Can I find someone qualified to assist me with my particular needs?
  • Can I rely on this person to have my best interests at heart?
  • Are we a good fit to work together?

Given these challenges, what is a person to do?

As with so many things in life, being an informed consumer will serve you well. But again, there’s a bit of a Catch-22 here. There’s an inherent imbalance in knowledge when one is seeking advice of any kind. If you’re like me, think of the last time you visited a mechanic and were told “Your right rear differential thing-a-ma-jig is leaking fluid and needs to be replaced. It will take 2 hours and cost X $. Should I go ahead with the repair?”


After all, you’re seeking advice from an expert because you don’t have the knowledge and experience in that area, right? But there are a few basic principles to remember and questions to ask that will serve you well. Continue reading

Posted in For your information, Money Coaching

How to Live the Life You Want with the Money You Have

By Sheila Walkington, Co-Founder and CFO

How to Live the Life You Want with the Money You Have

Money does not buy happiness. You’ve heard that before. Many studies of happiness have shown that relationships, a positive attitude, working towards goals and helping others, are at the core. Even exercise and pet ownership are considered contributing factors. How much money is in your bank account doesn’t even make the list.

On the other hand, constant struggle and worry about money can certainly rob you of happiness. Luckily, whether or not you struggle with money has less to do with how much you have and much more to do with your mindset. That’s why being a Money Coach brings me so much happiness. I have the opportunity to help people stop struggling and gain mastery over their money.

I also have the opportunity to dispel the misconception that money mastery is synonymous with giving up all the fun stuff you enjoy, and thinking only of a distant retirement or being prepared for a “rainy day.” As a Money Coach, I don’t set your priorities; I help you determine what matters most to you. The approach Money Coaches Canada, co-founder Karin Mizgala and I developed in our book Unstuck, is focused on the concepts: Dream, Plan, Live. Continue reading

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