A Man Without a Country


The light of joy and strange light of Christ is a light whose source lies always and everywhere in another country.  For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country

Charles Marsh; Strange Glory, A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

The four main political parties in Canada; none of them reflect my values.

I’m a man without a country.

Watching the political turmoil of the last few years I’ve increasingly felt as though I have no real political home.  And the more I feel that way, the more I’m okay with it.

During the last provincial election cycle here in Ontario our choices were between an incumbent government that had spent huge amounts of money on an ill-conceived plan to move the province toward renewable energy, an opposition party with a loud and flamboyant leader who promised to roll back the most progressive sex education program in North America and said he would “respect the tax-payers” but never really explained what that meant, and a third party that promised free prescription drugs but confessed that would mean even higher taxes and still more debt. 

There were other minor issues too but those all tended to get lost in the fray.  What it came down to for me, and many other voters, was a choice between more debt and higher taxes versus, a regressive set of social policies that fly in the face of history.  Most people chose to vote against debt and taxes without considering what that might mean for the many social programs we have come to rely on.  Today we have a government that is hellbent on lowering taxes with little to no regard for what that money is actually needed for.      

We can’t roll back the clock.  Gays get married, climate change is real and we’re deep in debt, all facts.  But it seems to me that no one in politics can successfully navigate these changing times without resorting to fear and division or spending all our money in the process.

Luckily, I don’t have to feel like I’m stuck here.  My citizenship lies in another country.  A country that doesn’t technically exist but one that we can easily see and promote if we know where to look. 

The Apostle Paul likened the life of a Christ follower as that of an ambassador, (2 Corinthians 5:20).  Ambassadors are not citizens of the country in which they live.  They are representatives of somewhere else.  Somewhere with different values, different interests and different ways of expressing themselves.  Ambassadors are representatives of a different kind of society and a different culture.  But because the Christian country that I represent doesn’t exist, I am still a man without a country. 

The country I represent, and the country I seek is a country defined by love.  It’s a country where the sad are comforted, the poor receive dignity, the sick receive healing and people willingly reduce their own comfort and security to make it all happen (Micah 6:8, Matthew 5).  But that county doesn’t exist and no one, politicians and citizens alike seem willing to make the hard choices that will bring it into being. 

So I’m a man without a country, and an ambassador of non-existent kingdom. 

Three Key Questions Every Financial Planner Should Be Asking


I’ve been working on a new question key for customer interviews.  In my work as a Financial Advisor I am committed to speaking to all my clients at least twice per year.  I call everyone on their birthday because, well, who doesn’t like to be remembered on their birthday?  But I also call everyone on their policy anniversary.

This anniversary call is the perfect opportunity to review the client’s needs and the structure of their relationship with me.  It’s also the time when I probe for a bit more information and look for additional opportunities for us to work together.

After we’ve gone through their account and verified that all the information we have is correct I will generally pause and then ask if I can ask them a few more questions.  There are three key questions that I will ask and depending on their answers it will direct me to certain products and service offerings that we can further explore.

1 – Do you have any outstanding debts or a mortgage?

If no, then I congratulate them on being in the minority.  The average Canadian is carrying $22,000 in personal debt, not including mortgages, and over 60% are set to entire retirement while still making long term debt payments.  After I’ve patted them on the back in this made and manner them feel good about themselves I move on to the next question.

If yes, I ask them if they like paying interest and if there was a way that I could help them pay less interest and be debt free years sooner would that worth a more detailed conversation.  I offer a unique approach to cashflow management which helps people identify areas of improvement and find extra money for debt repayment and savings.  Once I have them signed up for my Behavioral CashFlow Management program we can move on until then I stay on this point.  The fastest way to build wealth is to get control of your debts so until you get serious about your debts there isn’t much else I can do for you.

2 – Do you have a plan for building wealth?

If yes, then I congratulate them again on being proactive and taking steps toward financial freedom.  At this point I might ask them if they have a projected retirement date and if they know how much money they will be able to take out of their savings in retirement.  If not there is an opportunity to review their current plan through the Behavioral CashFlow Management program and help answer that question.  Often times through that process they discover they have less than they think and with a few minor adjustments they can end up with significantly more.

If no, then we talk about why not.  Usually the answer is that they don’t think they have any extra money to set aside right now so there’s no point.  This is the perfect opportunity to help people see the value of a Behavioural CashFlow Management plan.  A properly executed plan helps people see exactly how much money they have and where it’s going on a weekly basis.  With a few minor changes it’s shocking how much money we can find to help fund savings and other financial goals.

3 – Do you expect to die with money?

This is the silver bullet.  No matter what the answer is, there is a reason for us to continue talking.

If no, we go back to question two and fix the plan.  If yes, then I ask one last killer question; do you like paying tax?

There is no inheritance tax in Canada but all assets regardless of their type and source are subject to what the lawyers and accountants refer to as a deemed disposition upon death.  What that means is that all your assets are deemed to have been disposed of for cash one minute before you die.  The resulting income must then be declared on your final tax return for the year.  There are some exceptions, like your primary residence, but for the most part if you have $1 million in investments that cost you $200,000 to purchase back when you were working your estate must declare $800,000 in income for the year in which you die.  Depending on the province in which you live the potential income tax bill on your estate could exceed 55%.

With just a few tweaks while you are still living you can move assets into tax sheltered vehicles such as Cash Valued Life Insurance or Segregated Funds and significantly reduce the taxes payable on your final estate.  In fact, if you do it early enough and are in good health you may be able to reduce the effective income tax all the way to $0.00 and increase the value of your estate well beyond what it would be worth otherwise.

By asking those three key questions, along with a bit of clarification along the way, I can almost always find a reason to continue talking to a client.  Everyone wants to increase their wealth, and nobody likes paying interest or tax.  By answering these three questions we can almost always find a way to save significant money and increase your savings.

So, tell me – should we continue talking?  Reach out in the comments or directly via email on my contact page.

7 Tips to Recover from a Financial Setback


why-meBad things happen to good people. Overcoming financial challenges – in whatever form – takes dedication, patience and planning.

In life, you will have trouble, that’s a given. This can include losing your job, going through a divorce, or experiencing a serious illness. Then there are all those unexpected expenses life throws at you. A leaky roof, flooded basement, major car repair – any one of these could cost thousand, with no time to waste and room to negotiate.

And to add insult to injury, often times, more than one of these situations occur at once. It’s fairly obvious to think that these challenges often affect your finances – so how do you recover?

Here are seven tips for getting back in track after a financial setback, as recently published in “Solutions for Financial Planning”, a periodical publication from Manulife Financial.

  1. Get Professional Advice – A professional perspective can be invaluable, no matter the size of your problem. An financial advisor can help you assess the impact on both your short-term and long-term plans, adjust your goals, and develop a plan that helps lead to recovery. Getting advice first, will help you avoid making bad decisions like, racking up a large credit card balance that could only serve to prolong your troubles. Your advisor should help you gain perspective, relax a bit and offer constructive solutions to your problem.
  2. Tighten You Budget – Your budget probably has some slack. Regardless of the cause of your troubles, it’s time to eliminate that slack and get your budget back in balance. Take a hard look at your non-essential costs. I encourage all of my clients to play a little game call “Every Dollar Has A Name” in order to find the margin in their budget. Are there free or lower-cost alternatives to the things you do on a regular basis? Borrowing books, magazines and videos from the library, activities in a local park or at a community centre, or the ever popular staycation versus expensive vacation can all help save thousands. You could even take a look at negotiating a better deal on certain products and services without cutting back.
  3. changesExplore Big-Ticket Cost Savings – If things look as if they could have a lasting impact, and a high cost, it may be time to make some significant changes to your lifestyle. Changes that go beyond simple trimming and include some of the biggest line items in your budget. Consider moving to a smaller home a more affordable area and can you make do with one car? Major changes are difficult, but they may be the key to helping protect your future.
  4. Earn Extra Income – Spending less can only go so far, can you bring in more money? Can you sell something of value like art, an antique or a collectible? Maybe you can work more hours or even take a second job. Or course, working more takes time away from other commitments and might increase certain expenses like child care. And don’t forget the tax implications of earning more income. Ask your advisor to help you run all the numbers to ensure your extra income will more than pay for those extra costs.
  5. Talk To Your Mortgage Provider – If you have a mortgage, you may be able negotiate more manageable terms. You could switch from accelerated to more standard payments or if you’ve made lump-sum prepayments in the past, you may qualify for a short-term holiday from payments. It might also be possible to lengthening your mortgage’s amortization and add any payments you’ve missed to your balance. Lastly, if you are close to the renewal date on your mortgage, a full scale consolidation and change of provider may be in order.
  6. Talk To Other Creditors Too – Don’t letting bills slide, call your creditors, explain your situation and ask to lower your interest rate or reduce your payments. Most companies recognize the value of keeping you as a customer long term and are willing to negotiate rather than take a hard line and risk losing your as a customer forever. This can give you the breathing room you need to get through the worst of a setback and help protect your credit rating.
  7. Borrow Sensibly – If you simply can’t find any more savings or increase your piggywaterincome and you’ve run through your savings, check into the lowest-cost sources of borrowing. This can usually take the form of a secured line of credit or the aforementioned consolidation loan. Your advisor can help you identify the best solution for you.

 

Recovery from a financial shock is a journey. It will likely take several months or even years to get back to where you once were. But with a little determination, patience, planning and hard work, it can be done!

As things start to improve, make sure you stick to a streamlined budget and put extra money towards your long term debts. Start building a substantial emergency fund (three to six months of expenses) so you have resources on hand the next time you hit a financial speed bump.

Once you are in a stronger position, with more a bit more margin, look at other ways to help protect yourself from future shocks, such as various forms of personal insurance including, health, dental, critical illness and disability coverage. Start to set some money aside for the future too in one of the many government sponsored tax advantaged savings vehicles like a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) or even a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).

After enough time has passed and you have recovered emotionally from the stress, take some time to look back and think about what you might have done differently. Hindsight is 20/20 so use it to your advantage. Learn from the experience, without assigning blame and make sure you’re in a stronger financial position in case another difficult situation occurs.

balancingLastly, and I can’t stress this enough, go back to the very first tip and engage the help of professional financial advisor. Strong financial advice means a strong financial future. Households with an advisor are more likely to:

  • Have enough money to live the life they want (61 per cent compared to 31 per cent with no financial plan)
  • Be able to take an annual vacation (74 per cent compared to 44 per cent with no financial plan)
  • Have enough money for splurges (65 per cent compared to 31 per cent with no financial plan)

It doesn’t “just happen.” But it does happen if you have the right plan and support.

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. He has operated a small farm, a recording studio and a music manufacturing plant, and has written 3 books on Economics, Ethics and Spirituality.  He has presented his ideas to business owners and leaders from all over the world. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.

Mr. Sheil is currently a Financial Security Advisor and Business Planning Specialist with one of Canada’s premier financial planning organizations.  He brings to his work a passion for people and a desire to teach everyone to live life to the fullest while Eliminating Debt, Building Wealth and Leaving a Legacy.  

He can be reached at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

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Weathering Stormy Seas


stormatseaI start a lot of my initial client meetings with the following a metaphor.

Picture yourself on a sea voyage to a place called “retirement island”.  Our job today is to make sure your ship is sea worthy, that you have adequate supplies for the journey, (including life preservers) and that you bring enough cargo with you to survive once you get there.  As we all know,  retirement island, is a desert island and apart from the monthly visits of the S.S. Government Pension, everything you will need to live on retirement island will need to brought with you.

A lot of Canadians are jittery about investing. And who can say they’re wrong to worry? Between slumping oil prices, and the Canadian dollar’s dramatic ups and downs, the economy has taken a big hit in recent years. So has investor morale. Market volatility, along with economic uncertainty seems to be the new normal. The sea we are traveling on is choppy to say the least.

But even in a harder investment climate, diversification, with at least some stocks and bonds, is in my opinion the only way to beat inflation. This is specifically why today’s stormy conditions are leading some investors to consider taking a look at included segregated funds as part of the investment portfolio in the cargo hold of their ship.

A recent issue of “Solutions for Financial Planning” the client periodical from Manulife Financial, contained a fantastic article on the features and benefits of segregated funds. Much of the following information has been gleaned from that article and my personal experience in the financial planning industry.

What is a segregated fund? I’m glad you asked.

moneylifepreserverOne way to look at it is to say that a segregated fund is a way to put a life preserver around your money.

A segregated fund incorporates the potential for growth offered by a broad range of investment funds with the particular wealth protection features of a life insurance policy. Segregated fund contracts can help reduce vulnerability to loss through a number of different guarantees. These guarantees include things like income levels, death and maturity, potential protection from creditors, and estate planning, all from one product.

For most investors worried about market risk and volatility, a segregated fund’s most attractive features are it guarantees. After all, there are very few in guarantees life.

With a segregated fund contract, you will positively receive at least 75 per cent of your deposits (up to 100 per cent in some cases), minus any withdrawals, when the contract matures. This is called the maturity guarantee, and it applies on a set date. The maturity date occurs after a minimum number of years have elapsed or when the owner attains a certain age, (usually age 100). Even if markets decline during the period you will still receive the minimum guaranteed amount. If markets rise, your savings grow. Some contracts will even allow you to reset your maturity date so you can lock in growth.

One important detail about segregated fund contracts is that they are actually life insurance policies. Only life insurance companies can offer them, and only licensed life insurance representatives can sell them.

Segregated fund contracts vary widely. They can offer a diverse range of guarantees, features and fees. We are here to help and can explain the differences and recommend the various options that are available to you.

smoothsailingSegregated funds commonly suit more conservative investors, especially during stormier seas and more volatile markets. For investors who don’t want to lose sleep over the market ups and downs, the guarantees that come with segregated funds can provide some peace of mind and help offer smoother sailing. They also appeal to people for whom estate planning and the potential for protection from creditors is a top priority.

Segregated fund contracts also include a death benefit guarantee, similar to the maturity guarantee, if you die while the markets are down your estate or named beneficiary will receive a pre-determined percentage of the original deposit, regardless of the market value of the fund at the time. The guarantee can be up to 100 per cent, depending on the type of contract selected and the age of the purchaser. Your named beneficiary gets the death benefit in the event of your untimely passing. You can name anyone as your beneficiary, family member, friend or even your favourite charity.

Keep in mind that the guarantees are a type of life insurance, which you are going to pay for. Segregated fund costs are similar to the fees charged for comparable mutual funds and include management fees, insurance fees, operating costs and applicable sales tax. A contract might also include a charge for early with drawl. We can provide you with an itemized list of all fees prior to making any investment decision.

retiredcoupleonabeachGiven all of these advanced features a segregated fund contract could be just the answer for investors looking to minimize their exposure to risk and still take advantage of the upside potential of stock based investing. So that when you finally arrive at retirement island, your ship is intact and you can relax on the beach for the rest of your days. Given the ups and downs of today’s markets, they certainly deserve a closer look. Why not give me a call to discuss whether segregated funds are right for you?

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. He has operated a small farm, a recording studio and a music manufacturing plant, has written 3 books on Economics and Ethics and presented his ideas to business owners and leaders from all over the world. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.

Mr. Sheil is currently a Financial Security Advisor and Business Planning Specialist with one of Canada’s premier financial planning organizations.  He is passionate about helping entrepreneurs and everyday families to live life to the fullest while Eliminating Debt, Building Wealth and Leaving a Legacy.  

He can be reached at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

 

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Don’t Tax My Health Benefits!


taxRecent media reports suggest the Government of Canada is considering a new federal tax on the employer-paid portion of your health and dental plan coverage.

In 1993, a similar provincial income tax on the employer-paid portion of benefit plans was introduced in Quebec. It resulted in almost 20 per cent of Quebec employers (including up to 50 per cent of small business employers) terminating their group benefit plans. Under the proposed legislation, employee coverage would be considered a taxable benefit (additional income).  So that $500 visit to the dentist, would now have to be declared, not as an expense but as income on your T4.

So What?

Taxing the employer-paid portion of benefit plans may have the following implications:

  • As an employee, you would have to pay tax on the amount of the employer-paid portion of health and dental coverage, as it would be a taxable benefit. While it’s not clear how much such a tax could cost, the additional amount subject to tax might be hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
  • Termination of employer-paid health and dental benefit plans could lead to serious public health issues. According to a recent IPSOS poll, without coverage through group benefit plan, 84% of Canadians would end up delaying or forgoing treatment or medication if they didn’t have coverage. This will ultimately drive up treatment wait times and public health costs.mental-health
  • Among many other health outcomes, Canadians’ mental health will suffer as their covered access to needed psychological and other mental health supports will be reduced.

Take action

You can help protect the health care coverage that over 22 million Canadians rely on. Visit www.donttaxmyhealthbenefits.ca to tell your Member of Parliament and the Minister of Finance that you oppose a tax on your health and dental coverage. To ensure your voice is heard, use the hashtag #donttaxmyhealthbenefits on Facebook, Twitter.

 

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Five Smart Money Moves for the first 100 days of 2017


happynewyearA New Year will dawn in just over 3 more days. For me and many others who are close to me, the fresh start that a new year brings can’t come soon enough. Every year has its trials and triumphs but it seems that 2016 has had more than its fair share of the former and not enough of the latter. So I thought it was time to write about some strategic moves we can all make with our money in the coming year to make 2017 better than 2016 and set us up for many more good years in come.

With a new president in the United States we will likely be hearing a lot about the first 100 days of the new administration. Like a game of chess, the first few opening moves of a new administration are said to set the tone for the entire four year term. I like the idea of the first 100 days. It is long enough to measure and short enough not to drag on and on. The following are all moves you can make in the first 100 days of 2017 and set the tone for the rest of the year.

1 – Pay off consumer debt

Consumer debt (credit cards, personal loans, lines of credit etc) usually comes with a higher interest rate than your mortgage so that’s the best place to start. As of the last full accounting in 2015 Canadians were carrying an average of $21,164 in non-mortgage debt.

I’ve written at length in the past about various debt repayment strategies like the Debt Snowball and Debt Avalanche. Whether you need a series of small early victories or just want to get rid of your highest interest debt first doesn’t really matter. The key to both strategies is that once you have paid something off you roll the amount you’ve been paying over to the next one on the list and pick up momentum as you go, like rolling a ball down a hill.

Think of your debt repayment as an investment. Every dollar you pay toward a debt with a 19% interest rate is like earning that same 19% on your investments. At the end of the day it’s all about your net worth anyway and by reducing that debt you are increasing your net worth faster than you would be if you put that money toward an investment, even if you achieve an almost unheard of 12-15% on your money.

2 – Pay down your mortgagemortgage

Your biggest debt is likely your mortgage. The average mortgage in Canada is about $175,000. If your mortgage allows for it, consider putting a lump sum directly toward the principle. This could save you thousands in interest over the course of the term.

Alternatively, if you have at least 20% equity in your home you might also consider renegotiating or transferring your mortgage to a different financial institution and rolling some of your higher interest debt into the principle. Many financial institutions offer these kinds of mortgage consolidations that, even when you consider penalties to get out of your existing mortgages could save you thousands per year.

3 – Save for retirement

Money inside a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) can grow more quickly than non-registered money because you don’t have to pay taxes on any growth until you make withdrawals. The theory is that when you do finally make those withdrawals you will be in a lower tax bracket than you were when you made the deposits so you will always pay less tax than if you hadn’t registered the money in the first place. Not to mention the fact that you will get a tax deduction based in the amount of your RRSP contribution.

This is an important move for not just the first 100 days of the year but if you make the contribution within the first 60 days of the year (prior to March 1) you can report it on your 2016 tax return.

4 – Save for a short-term goal

shortermgoalThere are lots of things we can consider as a short-term goal; saving for a down payment on a house, a new car, vacation or building up an emergency fund. Open a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) for these types of things. All investment growth in a TFSA is tax-free and can be withdrawn at any time without incurring any taxes. And the best feature of these accounts is that you can withdraw money one year and put it back the next year without losing any contribution room.

As of January 1 every Canadian over 18 will receive an additional $5,500 of contribution room, bringing the total available room depending on your age to $52,000.

5 – Save for education

If you have children that are planning on going on to post-secondary education there is no better investment vehicle than the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). It is essentially guaranteed free money. Depending on your income level the government will add up to 20% to your investment. Consider an average investment earning 5% on its own plus the 20% in government grants and there is no other investment on the planet where you could reasonably expect a 25% annual return. Best of all the money is taxed at the student’s income rate when it is withdrawn, which should be next to nothing.

With these early moves you can set the tone for a successful 2017. For more information on how to implement these and other strategies feel free to contact me any time.

Mr. Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 20 years.  He is currently a Financial Security Advisor with one of Canada’s premier financial planning organizations.  He holds dual licenses from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) for Life, Disability and Critical Illnesses Insurance and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) for personal investments.  He is passionate about helping people to live life to the fullest while Eliminating Debt, Building Wealth and Leaving a Legacy.  

He can be reached at themeekonomicsporject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

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The Value of Advice – Video Blog


Here is a little video that does a great job of explaining the value of having a financial security advisor like me in your corner. Check it out and let me know what you think.

As we head into the Holiday Season I am starting to prepare my clients for RRSP and tax season starting early in the New Year. Contact me any time if you would like to learn more about what I do and how I can help you achieve your goals and dreams in the coming year.

 

 

Mr. Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 20 years.  He is currently a Financial Security Advisor with one of Canada’s premier financial planning organizations.  He holds dual licenses from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) for Life, Disability and Critical Illnesses Insurance and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) for personal investments.  He is passionate about helping people to live life to the fullest while Eliminating Debt, Building Wealth and Leaving a Legacy.  

He can be reached at themeekonomicsporject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

 

Are You A Survivor?


survivorLast night my wife and I watched the season finale of Survivor. I know we are a bit late to the party on this one but we tend to load up our PVR and binge watch things over a few days rather than invest an hour or two a week for several months. We miss the boat on some of the water cooler talk that way but in the long run it saves us lots of time so it works for us.

Usually when I watch Survivor I can’t help but wonder what the real survivalists think of this show. Forget the school yard games and the psychological game play, that’s clearly just for TV. What I want to know is how realistic are their attempts to build shelter and hunt for food? I’m guessing not very.

I am clearly not a survivalist. I don’t even have the recommended 72 hour emergency kit in my house. I know where my flash light is (I think) and the last time I used it the batteries seemed okay. I usually have at least a few bottles of water in the house but if there were to be a serious interruption of services, like a long term power outage brought about by a massive winter storm or the Zombie Apocalypse I’m pretty sure I would be one of the first to die.

All kidding aside though, all this talk of survival though got me wondering about how many of my readers would survive another type of emergency, a financial one.

emergencyLast fall Manulife Bank completed a homeowner debt survey. They found that half of the households polled have less than $1,000 in emergency savings. But considering the impact of a job loss or the cost of making a major repair like replacing a roof or a furnace, $1,000 clearly won’t go very far.

In addition to the more common unexpected expenses, consider a couple of others as well, like pet care and aging parents. Unexpected health care expenses for Fluffy the Cat can run into the thousands, $1200 for dental care alone. Provincial health plans rarely provide the level of care aging parents might need following surgery or any other kind of health crisis. Not to mention the cost of travel if you live a distance away and if you need to make a last minute trip to attend to their needs.

The survey found that while 73% of homeowners believe they are at least somewhat prepared to deal with the unexpected, 38% admitted that they were caught short when something did happen, 24% didn’t even know if they had any emergency funds at all and 13% admitted to having no money set aside for emergencies.

Click this link to my financial readiness quiz and see what areas could use some improvement in your life then call me to talk about your results and figure out what next steps you should take to boost your score.

Results

0-38 points – Some serious improvement needed

39-60 points – Moderately ready

61-75 points – Financial readiness all-star

Mr. Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 20 years.  He is currently a Financial Security Advisor with one of Canada’s premier financial planning organizations.  He holds dual licenses from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) for Life, Disability and Critical Illnesses Insurance and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) for personal investments.  He is passionate about helping people to live life to the fullest while Eliminating Debt, Building Wealth and Leaving a Legacy.  

He can be reached at themeekonomicsporject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

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Add value to your financial plan. Work with a professional.


financial-adviceFinancial advice is easy to find. Family and friends are always trying to tell you what to do. You can find financial advice and information online, in magazines and books and on the nightly news.

Most people prefer to deal with their banker, thinking that it will be easier to keep all of their financial transactions in the same place, but the fact is the bank may not have access to some of the most important pieces of a complete financial plan. Some people even ask their lawyers and accountants for advice, especially when making decisions about their business or their estate.

The fact is that advice is usually cheap and easy to find.

But what advice is the right advice?

Can you find out the best way to protect your family and your business from a banker who has little to no knowledge about Life Insurance? Should you ask your accountant, who is most concerned about reducing your taxes in the short term, how a decision made today will affect you in the future? Are you getting a good image of the big picture from professionals who are focused on one area of expertise?

When you stop and think about it, taking a do-it-yourself approach to financial planning and pulling in bits and pieces of advice from specialized sources like this usually becomes overwhelming quite quickly. There are just too many investment and insurance options to choose from.

financial-advisorDeveloping a relationship with a professional financial security advisor can help cut through the noise and figure out what you should be focused on and help you build a complete financial security plan that puts your needs and goals first.

A good financial advisor will know that each product you purchase, whether it’s an investment in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) or some form of insurance policy, will perform a vital role in your overall plan and what specific need or goal it will help you to accomplish.

A good advisor also knows that helping you develop a sound plan is about way more than just making a sale. A comprehensive plan should also include advice on such diverse topics as tax strategies, estate planning, your retirement savings, child and continuing education, insurance and other forms of risk management.

A financial advisor is a hugely important member of a whole team of professionals you should have working on your behalf. Depending on your needs a team that can also include your banker, your accountant and a lawyer as needed.

Like the other experts on your team, a financial advisor is a specialist in the field and can help identify opportunities even the most financially-savvy investor may not know about. A financial advisor takes a holistic and long-term approach to your security that is based on consistency, understanding, and trust.  And that is the kind of value added that I don’t think you can find anywhere else.

rrspRRSP season is just around the corner, if you haven’t already done so, now is the perfect time to bring a financial advisor on board to help you develop a comprehensive financial plan, not just for this year, but for the rest of your life.

To learn more about the benefits of working with a financial advisor, drop me a line…

Mr. Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 20 years.  He is currently a Financial Security Advisor with one of Canada’s premier financial planning organizations.  He holds dual licenses from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) for Life, Disability and Critical Illnesses Insurance and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) for personal investments.  He is passionate about helping people to live life to the fullest while Eliminating Debt, Building Wealth and Leaving a Legacy.  

He can be reached at themeekonomicsporject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

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The Right Fit


Finding the right financial advisor can do wonders to help you reach your goals.

tailorHave you ever noticed how many of the biggest goals in life tend to have a financial component? Yes okay, you can learn a foreign language or train for a triathlon (like I am), without making a big financial commitment. But for the really big life events like buying a home, starting a family or helping your kids go to university, not to mention retiring or creating a legacy, without disciplined planning, your goals will just become pipe dreams and slip away.

If you’re like most of my clients, juggling a career and family, you don’t have time to figure it all out for yourself, either. And like most Canadians, you probably feel like you don’t have the knowledge to take on the complexities of financial planning by yourself. That’s when seeking the advice of a professional can give you a huge boost. In fact, getting the right person working on your team can make all the difference in helping meet, or even exceed your goals. According to research by the Investment Funds Institute of Canada (IFIC), the retirement accounts of Canadians who retain the services of a financial advisor significantly outperform those who don’t.

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The stakes are high when it comes to talking about something as important and personal as your retirement accounts. Your expectations of your advisor need to be just as high. Like all good advisors my commitment to my clients is to do at least these three things:

  1. Learn about you. This means endeavoring to understand your family’s goals both short- and long-term, not just your finances but also your general hopes and dreams.   Just as importantly, your advisor should help you understand your attitude toward risk. Do you avoid risks at all costs? Do the ups and downs of the markets excite you? Or more commonly, are you want I like to call a Goldilocks investor, not too hot and not too cold.
  2. Build your plan. This is the part where the term Financial “Advisor” gets its name. We’re all about giving advice after-all. As your advisor I will create an actionable plan that contains a number of things that you can do immediately. The plan will also show some milestones to be achieved later. A complete plan will include:
  • Debt management – this should be the first part of every financial plan, if you don’t pay attention to your debt there is no point in going any further.

  • Systematic savings – predetermined and agreed upon amounts to put aside regularly (usually monthly).

  • Investment portfolio – keeping in mind your attitude and tolerance toward risk, a well planned portfolio should both protect and grow your assets.

  • Tax strategy – Ben Franklin was right, there are only two certainties in life, death and taxes, but smart people know how to a least minimize and differ the amount of tax they pay.

  • Risk management – There is nothing any of us can do about death, life, disability and critical illness insurance are integral parts of all financial plans that help to protect your family from the inevitable and the unthinkable.

  • Retirement plan – Everyone at some point will stop working, either by choice or out of necessity. The plan will include projections of when you can expect to retire, and with how much money.

  1. Adjust your plan. Life is never systematic and fixed, change is a given and often unexpected. Your plan must be flexible and reviewed regularly. I contact my clients at least twice a year just to check in and make sure all is well, generally with a phone call on your birthday and a summary report around the anniversary of our setting up your plan. We will also try to have a sit down meeting once a year to check your progress, revisit your goals and, if necessary, reset your course.

 Not just about retirement

notjustretirementA lot of Canadians start thinking about engaging an advisor somewhere in their 40s or 50s, when retirement starts to look like a real possibility. Major life events like buying a home or becoming a parent also tend to trigger a need for a financial reckoning and a bit of outside advice. But you don’t have to wait for big goals to appear either. Maybe you just want to save up for a new car or take a vacation without going deep into debt these are all good reasons to make an appointment with an advisor.

The point is, you call the shots with your advisor we work for you after-all. Anything from helping you to create a comprehensive estate plan to just being an impartial third party sounding board for your own ideas.

Finding the right fit

Every client and every advisor are unique individuals, and each party brings a different set of personal experiences and professional skills to the relationship. And don’t discount that “gut feeling” everyone gets when they first meet someone new either. Personally I know that I work best with people who share some of my core values. They are:

Integrity, Stewardship, Humility, an openness to learning and accepting that you might not even know what you don’t know, and an unwavering commitment to avoid and eliminate debt.

My mission statement says it all:

I am here to teach you to Eliminate Debt, Build Wealth and Leave a Legacy.

If you think you can align with those core values and goals I think we can find a way to work together. Contact me any time at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com and let’s get started.

Mr. Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 20 years.  He is currently a Financial Security Advisor with one of Canada’s premier financial planning organizations.  He holds dual licenses from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) for Life, Disability and Critical Illnesses Insurance and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) for personal investments.  He is passionate about helping people to live life to the fullest while Eliminating Debt, Building Wealth and Leaving a Legacy.   (And he really is a triathlete.)

He can be reached at themeekonomicsporject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

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