Last updated: Nov-23-2017

11/24/2017 8:55:40 PM

Opinions expressed in articles published on this site are solely those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of The Fund Library, its staff or affiliates.


By Robyn K. Thompson | Friday, November 17, 2017

November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada. And this year’s theme is “Take charge of your finances: It pays to know.” That little slogan was never more true than when dealing with personal debt, especially credit card debt. According to the Canadian Bankers Association, as of December 2016, credit card debt made up about 5% of total household debt. And about 40% of those with credit cards carry a monthly balance. According to a survey last year by TransUnion, the average credit card debt in the third quarter of 2016 was $3,954.

By Robyn K. Thompson | Friday, November 10, 2017

Q – Stock markets are feeling very “toppy” these days, with record highs being set daily and valuations soaring out of site. Do you think it’s time to commit more funds to stocks in the hope of capturing a final upside blast, or should investors sell and head for the nearest shelter? – Rick T., Burlington, Ontario

By Robyn K. Thompson | Monday, October 30, 2017

Q – I’m the owner of a successful small business. I’ve been following the attempts by the Liberal government to change some of the tax rules governing incorporated small businesses, but I haven’t seen a lot written about how this would affect Individual Pension Plans. With my RRSP maxed out, I’ve been thinking seriously about an IPP, but now I’m not so sure. What’s your opinion? – Tom L., Toronto, Ontario

By Robyn K. Thompson | Friday, October 13, 2017

Q – I’ve been going through a particularly contentious divorce process, and I haven’t had the time or inclination to think about my own financial future. Do you have any advice for people like me, who suddenly find themselves single again? – Rhonda C., Toronto, Ontario

By Robyn K. Thompson | Friday, September 29, 2017

Q – I’ve read about the potential benefits of using stock options as an investment strategy to generate additional income. I’ve also heard that various portfolio managers use options for this purpose, specifically something called a “covered call writing” strategy. Could you explain what this strategy is and whether there are any investment funds available that make use of it? – L. T., Toronto, Ontario

By Robyn K. Thompson | Friday, September 15, 2017

Q – Do you have any general financial planning advice for young, single people? I’ve already been working for a couple of years since graduating from university, and I earn good money. But I’m feeling like I’m unable to make ends meet every month and still spinning my wheels financially. – Maggie G., Calgary, Alberta

By Gordon Pape | Monday, August 21, 2017


Recently, a reader wrote to ask about recent news out of India and China that could have huge ramifications for automakers and the energy industry.

Q – “I heard about the electric car targets for India and China for the coming decades, and part of the announcement indicated that Chinese companies will be legislated to be the suppliers/manufacturers,” he wrote.

“Considering that the world’s future growth is highly, if not solely, dependent on China and India, the impacts to all internal combustion engine (ICE)-dependent industries could be tremendous. Is this a game changer for several industries? How do we position our accounts to take advantage/prepare for this?” – Adolfo E.

By Robyn K. Thompson | Friday, August 18, 2017

Q – I notice that shorter-term returns of the iShares Core Canadian Universe Bond Index ETF (TSX: XBB) have been sliding recently. I’m not sure I understand why, but I’ve been told it has something to do with rising interest rates. Are there some actively-managed bond fund alternatives that might do better? – Alan T., Barrie, Ontario

By Gordon Pape | Monday, August 07, 2017

* Should he buy GIC from Oaken Financial?
* Can you transfer a GIC to a TFSA?

Should he buy Oaken GIC?

Q – I tried to convince my wife to switch from CIBC to Oaken Financial because CIBC is giving me 1.30% on a GIC for one-year non-redeemable and are insured by CDIC. Oaken Financial gives me 2.6% for one year. The inflation rate is 1.60%. Since you are an expert, what is your opinion? – George V.

By Robyn K. Thompson | Friday, August 04, 2017

Q – My husband and I are Millennials with a family and a growing business. We find we’re just too busy to create and actively manage an investment portfolio. But we’ve heard about certain types of portfolios sometimes called “couch potato” or “easy chair” portfolios. This sounds tailor-made for us. Could you explain what these are and how to go about settting one up? – Krista M., Toronto, Ontario

By Gordon Pape | Monday, July 24, 2017

Q – I’m an IBM retiree and bought shares through IBM’s payroll deduction plan, reinvested the dividends, and inherited some. The dividends are quite nice, but they are taxed as ordinary income in Canada, and there is U.S. withholding tax of 15%. I have a large capital gain that makes selling the shares not particularly attractive. But I wonder if that wouldn’t be the wisest thing to do?

By Robyn K. Thompson | Friday, July 21, 2017

Q – My fiancé and I are getting married later this summer. With all the wedding planning taking up our time, we haven’t really been able to discuss our financial situation in any great detail. Do you have any financial planning advice for newlywed couples? – Brenda T., Toronto, Ontario

By Gordon Pape | Monday, July 10, 2017

Q – I try to spread my individual security choices across the main sectors. One challenge I have always faced is choosing companies within the resources and commodities sector.

By Robyn K. Thompson | Friday, July 07, 2017

Q – I’ve been looking around for some financial advice, and it seems like there are “financial advisors” around every corner. Trouble is, they all seem to offer different services and have different qualifications. And I assume they all charge different fees. Do I really need a lawyer or an accountant to help me set up a portfolio? How do I know I’m getting the best bang for my buck? – Robert N., Vaughan, Ontario

By Robyn K. Thompson | Monday, June 26, 2017

Q – I recently opened a Tax-Free Savings Account, and I was asked whether I wanted to specify something called a “successor holder” or whether I wanted to designate a beneficiary. I’m not quite sure what the difference is. Could you explain why this is important? – Mary L., Kitchener, Ontario

By Robyn K. Thompson | Friday, June 09, 2017

Q – I just graduated from university, and fortunately I landed a good job in my field of study. But I now find myself with a pretty hefty student loan debt load. Do you have any suggestions on how I can pay this off, or should I just ignore it and hope the Ontario government implements a debt forgiveness program? I’ve heard this might happen as it continues to make big pre-election promises. – Thomas Q., Toronto, Ontario

By Robyn K. Thompson | Friday, May 26, 2017

Q – Our oldest child is just graduating from grade six, and we’d like to start saving for post-secondary education. We’ve seen some brochures from companies that offer Registered Education Savings Plans, but they seem somewhat complicated, with our funds pooled with other investors. And we’re not even sure we need it. Do you have any suggestions? – Paul and Lorraine T., Peterborough, Ontario

By Robyn K. Thompson | Friday, May 19, 2017

Q – What are “annuities” and how do they work? – E.O.

A – When you purchase an annuity, you essentially buy a contract under which the issuing company (usually an insurance company) invests the lump sum you provide and guarantees a regular payout with interest over the life of the annuity contract. Typically, monthly annuity payouts are quoted per $100,000 of the contracted amount. Very simply, an annuity provides a guaranteed income stream for life. Annuities are sometimes used as an RRSP maturity option; however, annuities have been less popular for this purpose in recent years, owing to the historically low level of interest rates.

By Robyn K. Thompson | Friday, May 12, 2017

Q – I’m a novice investor, and I’ve been researching ways to set up an investment portfolio using exchange-traded funds, because of their low management fees. I’ve looked at broad stock and bond index funds as a place to start, but a friend told me I’d get more bang for my buck with a couple of “smart beta” funds added to the mix. Because I consider myself a fairly conservative investor, I think I’d need a portfolio balanced between stocks and bonds, but I’m not sure how smart beta ETFs would fit in. Do you have any suggestions? – Melanie V., Mississauga, Ontario

By Gordon Pape | Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Q – My husband has dual citizenship with Canada and the U.S. Because of that, we have topped up my TFSA and now have money to contribute to his. To keep things simple for U.S. income tax filing purposes, does it make sense to buy Canadian stocks in U.S. dollars in the plan? The intent is to withdraw profits yearly to fund our southern winter vacation every year and after the initial purchase not have to worry about the exchange rates. I would appreciate any ideas that you have. – D.M.

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