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Odette Morin

Odette Morin

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Enhanced Child Care Benefit starts today!

families2

Many Canadians are about to receive the largest one-time benefit payment in federal history. The Harper government is sending out its enriched Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) starting today.

And since the payments are retroactive to January, families will receive cheques or direct deposits representing a total of  $3-billion payout.

The UCCB was increased to $160 per month for each child under the age of six.  The retroactive payment will be $360 per child.

The UCCB was expanded to children aged 6 through 17.  Formerly none were paid. Parents will receive a benefit of up to $60 per month for each child in their care aged 6 through 17.  The retroactive payment will be $360 per child.

How will you spent the enhanced Child Benefit?  or will you be saving some of it?  Let us know your plans!

Find out the details here

Are we in a recession? Who cares?

Read this great article from Andrew Coyne.  It is very well said. Here is an except:
“The media fascination with whether we are or are not in recession is age-old. It reflects our general preference for binary oppositions: up-down, right-left, in-out. We like trials (convicted-acquitted) and hockey games (win-lose: don’t even think of calling it a tie). So much so that where no such opposition exists, we make it up. What did we learn about the candidates in the televised debate? Who cares? Just tell me who won, and whether there were any knockout blows. We don’t like grey zones, or judgment calls. We desire rules, finality, seeming precision.”

The full article is here

“But Odette, I will not live to age 90!”

Fauji Singh

When we prepare retirement plans, we run numbers to make sure that your money will last until at least age 90. Invariably, I get the “but Odette, I will not live to age 90”.

If you can’t imagine living to age 90, think again. Meet Fauja Singh, the 104 year old marathoner. He took up running at the age of 89 and up until last year, has ran a marathon every year.

There are plenty of these examples. The number of centenarians (people aged 100 and over) in Canada is rising. Statistic Canada says that group grew 25.7% between 2006 and 2011. It’s also been the fastest-growing segment for nearly 40 years.

Many of our clients in their late 80s and early 90s also live a very full and active life requiring just as much money as in their 60s and 70s.

In a financial planning perspective, we have to plan for the worst case scenario. Living beyond age 90 and running out of money is not something we want to experience. Depending on our children or the state is even worse.

When calculating sustainable drawdown rates for retirees, we need to plan for the retirement funds to last for life, whenever that age is. Too much money is never a problem, I often say, or “Too much is just enough” as my 92 year old mother says.

So, those numbers I calculate for you are not inflated. They are more realistic than you may think. Who knows, you may be the next Fauja Singh we see happily running into the 100s!

You can read more about Mr. Fauja Singh here.

 

The Sweet Rewards of a Retirement Well Planned

Classic car

After decades of working every single day, the long-awaited arrival of retirement can understandably mean a chance to relax and enjoy the finer things in life.

It’s time to take that cruise you had promised yourself, enjoy more regular trips to the theatre, perhaps even buy a new classic car!

This is what clients of ours did recently and I could not be happier for them. These long-term clients have planned properly, saved enough for a very comfortable retirement and followed our advice along the way.

Too many pensioners spend far too much money during the early few years of retirement and end up facing a ‘life of frugality’ in their later years.

Buying a classic car or taking that month long cruise is not for everyone but when you have planned properly, started the process early and saved diligently, it sure is comforting to be able to afford a worry free retirement life and to occasionally splurge a little as well.

What does Greece mean to you?

Gexit

Greece forced a “bank holiday” until July 6th 2015, as the Greek government has announced a referendum on whether the austerity measures demanded by Greece’s creditors in return for continued financial aid should be accepted or not.  Along with the bank closures, daily limits on cash withdrawals have been limited to 60 euros per day, and a halt on foreign transfers of cash have been implemented in an effort to prevent a mass run on Greek assets.

Predictably, the Eurozone equity market dropped by nearly 3% on the open Monday morning.

So, what are they voting on in the referendum?

While the literal wording will address the government acceptance or refusal of creditors’ terms, in reality, the referendum will be a vote on: a) whether the current government remains intact, and b) whether Greece should begin its exit from the Eurozone sooner rather than later.  Recent polls have suggested that the majority of Greek voters would prefer that negotiations continue to avoid departure from the euro, but the wording of the referendum may centre focus on the prerequisite pension reductions and even harsher austerity measures, prompting an emotional “no” which would all but seal Greece’s accelerated departure from the Eurozone.

What happens next?

In the event of a “no” vote, market volatility will certainly increase, pushing quality yields even tighter, and credit spreads wider, particularly among peripheral Eurozone sovereign bonds. The degree to which this happens will be determined by the European Central Bank’s (ECB’s) follow-through on their commitment to mitigate any possible financial market contagion, having adopted a familiar “by any means necessary” stance.

Conversely, a “yes” vote would almost certainly result in a rapid reversal of sentiment and markets in the shorter term, with sustained financial aid keeping the Greek economy afloat for a while longer.  Politically, one would expect some sort of reshuffling of the government, with either resignations, elections, or some other sequence of events that would essentially remove the current majority government.

How could your investment portfolio be affected?

The primary impact of all of this has been the increased volatility felt throughout financial markets.  Economically speaking however, the impact of Greece’s default and Eurozone departure is limited relative to the global economy, and in the medium term may in fact lead to positive sentiment among European investors. In the longer term however, with the precedent of a troubled Eurozone member departing, it may bring into question the possibility of a “domino” effect in the future.

Among the various macroeconomic and geopolitical risks that exist today, Greece remains a minor factor.  It has been well documented that the financial impact of a default is manageable on a larger scale, although companies and smaller emerging European countries with larger exposure to commerce with Greece will certainly be affected.  From a silver lining view, equity markets may in fact welcome a Greek tragedy as it would almost certainly guarantee a continuation of loose monetary policy from the ECB and U.S. Federal Reserve as global financial markets digest the news.  “Lower rates for longer” has been a driving force behind equity returns, and removal of Greek uncertainty should almost certainly be seen as a positive.

Given the uncertainty of the referendum’s outcome and the short timeframe until its conclusion, trying to adjust asset allocation of a global portfolio to capitalize on the results would be pure speculation.   Over a 12 month horizon, fundamentals of Eurozone economies and equities remain attractive.

Ongoing Monitoring

The “noise” related to Greece has been closely monitored over the past several months by managers. As new developments present themselves, we will continue to update you.