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Ask the experts

Ask the Experts – November 2019

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t like to talk about money. For some, it’s because they’re worried about saying something wrong or making a mistake. Other people might believe it to be rude or impolite to discuss financial matters. For a lot of people, money is a private subject that you only discuss with your immediate family. However, talking about money is important. When you discuss money, budgets, and financial matters, you learn new things and discover new strategies. This can help you be better at managing your finances, sticking to your budget, and much more. In short, talking about money can lead to making better financial decisions and creating a stronger financial future for yourself.

That’s why, every month, our financial experts answer money and finance questions. If you have a question for our team, ask us online on FacebookTwitter or through our website.

The questions here have been condensed or rewritten for clarity and simplicity.

My new job offers a retirement plan. Should I invest?

Saving for retirement is important, but a lot of people worry that they won’t be able to save enough on their own, even if they start early. If your employer offers a retirement plan, or if they match contributions to your RRSP, this could make it easier to save. It’s generally a good idea to contribute to company retirement plans if you can.

Obviously, every financial situation is different and there is no “one size fits all” advice that is guaranteed to work for everyone, but investing in retirement savings as soon as possible is generally good advice.

The sooner you start saving, the more time your money will have to grow and the more you’ll have when you retire. If your employer offers a retirement plan or is willing to contribute to your savings, this is even better. Not only will you be saving for retirement (and getting some help from your employer), but the contributions will likely come directly out of your pay at the source, so you won’t have to do anything. Automated savings tend to be easier for most people since you’ll probably forget all about the money until you need it.

However, it’s important to understand all the details of any plan before you invest. Speak to your employer’s human resources department to get the information you need.

With the Holiday Season coming up, what can I do to stay financially healthy at this time of year?

The holiday season can be a very costly time for many people, regardless of what you celebrate or how you do it. Unfortunately, this time of year often leads to debt problems that last long after the season has come and gone. The fact that you’re asking about how to be financially responsible at this time of year is a good thing. It shows that you understand the potential issues of overspending during the holidays.

There are several things you can do to avoid money problems at this time of year. The first is creating a shopping list and sticking to it. There are a lot of temptations during the holidays and, if you don’t have a list, it’s easy to go overboard and spend more than you should. Before you do any shopping, make a list of what you think you’d like to purchase. Don’t deviate from this list when you shop.

Then, put estimated prices beside each item on your list. Once you have all the prices written down, you’ll know how much you need to spend. The key is then fitting this amount into your budget. You may have to make cuts so that everything fits.

If you can’t manage to fit all your desired holiday expenses into your budget, you’ll need to go back to your list and make some adjustments. Most people will need to prioritize their shopping. No one can afford absolutely everything they want, so focus on the things that matter most.

If there are certain things that really matter, but that you can’t fit into your budget, try to think about ways to make more money. Consider taking on some extra work, selling items you no longer need, or doing some freelance or contract work. These actions will give you some more cash to spend and help you avoid holiday debt troubles.

Another way to be financially responsible at this time of year is to be creative and come up with ways to celebrate the season without spending money. Spending time with your loved ones is what truly matters, so think of ways to enjoy the time without breaking the bank.