The Learning Centre:
Your top 5 financial ‘to-dos’ for spring
(Reading time: 3:45)
The days are getting longer. The weather is finally warming up. Maybe you’ve even somehow managed to hang on to that ‘post-March Break glow’.
Yes, it’s spring—the season of new beginnings… and a mile-long list of ‘to-dos’. To-dos such as tuning-up and switching the tires on your vehicle; replacing the batteries in your smoke detectors; and finally cleaning out that attic/closet. But the list doesn’t stop there.
There are also 5 very-important financial ‘to-dos’ for spring, according to the financial experts at Educators.
#1: Tax return filing (Karen Hubbard – Regional Assistant Vice-President, Client Advisory Services)
This annual financial task may be an obvious ‘to do’ for many. However, a statistic from the CRA states that two-thirds of Canadian taxpayers file their returns within the final days and weeks of the April 30th deadline.
Yet there are many advantages to filing your tax return early, including:
- Ensuring benefits, such as the Canada Child Benefit, and HST/GST credit, remain uninterrupted.
- More time to check (and double-check) that you haven’t missed any eligible tax credits.
- Access to any tax refund you may have coming your way sooner, rather than later. (A reason that should really ‘light the fire’ to file early.)
If you’re not a tax-filing early bird, that’s okay. Just don’t be late if you have a balance owing, because it will cost you.
In fact, if you file your return after the deadline and have a balance owing, you will be hit with a penalty fee equal to 5% of the taxes you owe. Plus, you would pay an additional 1% for every month your return is late (up to a year). If you are consistently filing late, your penalty fee would almost double.
So be sure to get on top of your tax filing before April 30th.
Karen’s suggested tax-related reading: Tax-time tips to maximize your return.
#2: Financial maintenance (Graham Walker – Senior Financial Advisor)
With RRSP season behind us and tax season in full swing, personal finance is top of mind. Which is why I suggest adding ‘financial maintenance’ to your list of spring-cleaning tasks.
What makes this particular ‘to-do’ so important in my opinion? Well, life happens.
What does this mean? It means that education members get married/divorced, have kids, buy a home, retire and start collecting their pension. All of those little things can add up to big changes in your budget—which can then impact your overall financial goals. That’s why it’s a good idea to review your financial situation, including your investment plan, at least once a year.
Graham’s spring financial maintenance checklist:
- Review budget
- Ensure investment portfolio is balanced/reflects risk tolerance
- Update Estate Planning documents
#3: Debt/credit checkup (Amedeo Perfetto – Broker, Director of Lending Services)
Spring marks the start of a major home-buying season. It should also be a time when you review your credit situation. Because whether you’re looking for a mortgage now or somewhere down the road, being ‘debt-aware’ is the best way to keep your credit score high and your credit risk low (to better your chances of being approved).
Be sure to add ‘checking my credit report’ to your list of spring financial ‘to-dos’.
With credit fraud on the rise, staying on top of your report will ensure you’re able to quickly identify any errors or red flags, and report them to Canada’s credit bureaus (Equifax and TransUnion).
Amedeo’s article picks for maintaining peak credit health:
- How to build and maintain your credit history
- How to credit score: 5 things you need to know about credit and debt
- The debt-to-income ratio: what it is and how to reduce it
Are you in the market for your first mortgage? Learn more about the new First-Time Home-Buyer’s Incentive.
#4: Summer cash flow forecast (Marian Ollila – Certified Financial Planner professional)
Even though spring has just started, it’s definitely not too early to be thinking ahead to your summer plans. Specifically, when it comes to cash flow (and whether you’ll have enough of it to enjoy July and August the way you want).
That’s why one of your financial to-dos for spring should be what I call a ‘summer cash flow forecast’.
While you can never truly predict what the future will bring, you can at least take certain steps now to ensure you’re in the best financial position possible, come the end of June.
Marian’s summer cash flow forecast includes:
#5: Getting ‘pension-ready’ for June (Darryl Martella – Senior Financial Advisor)
If you happen to be retiring this year, you may or may not be aware of the list of pension-planning items you need to get done before the end of June.
Here are some of those tasks, as recommended by Darryl (and OTPP):
- Apply for your pension 3 to 4 months before your retirement officially starts. If you apply after your resignation date, you may lose pension payments.
- Be sure to submit your letter of retirement/resignation before your intended retirement date. Remember you must terminate your employment in order to receive your pension.
- The resignation date on your pension application must be the same date on your resignation letter.
- Review your service record for accuracy and opportunities to buy back or transfer service.
- Decide whether or not you want to purchase supplementary medical coverage (in the event that your health benefits are not extended into retirement).
For a full pension to-do list, be sure to visit the OTPP website.
If you need help with any of your spring financial ‘to-dos’, call on Karen, Graham, Amedeo, Marian, Darryl, and the rest of us at Educators Financial Group. That’s what we’re here for.
Whatever the task is and wherever you are in your career, our financial solutions are designed with the unique needs of education members in mind.
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The information provided is general in nature and is provided with the understanding that it may not be relied upon as, nor considered to be, the rendering of tax, legal, accounting or professional advice. Please ensure to consult your accountant and/or legal advisor for specific advice related to your circumstances. Educators Financial Group will not be held responsible or liable for any losses, costs, damages or expenses incurred by reason of reliance as a result of the aforementioned information. The information presented was obtained from sources that are believed to be reliable. However, Educators Financial Group cannot guarantee their completeness or accuracy.