All posts by saskpension

Wedding Insurance: Why you need it and what’s covered

You have been planning a wedding for months. The venue has been booked, invitations sent and the flowers selected. Then an immediate family member becomes very ill and the event has to be postponed. Or the banquet hall goes belly up and a hefty deposit is lost. These unfortunate events happen rarely, but when they do the extra expense can put a strain on an already tight budget.

According to an unscientific survey by Weddingbells magazine, there were 162,056 weddings across Canada in 2014, each with an average price tag of $31,685. Furthermore, a survey conducted in the same year by a Bank of Montreal subsidiary suggested that people in Saskatchewan and Manitoba planned to spend, on average, $27,200 on a future wedding. That figure was the highest in the country.

You insure your car, your home, your life and your health. But you may not be aware that you can also insure your wedding. Coverage may range from a wedding guest’s slip and fall to stolen wedding gifts to extreme weather on the day of the event that causes 50% of the guests to be unable to attend the wedding or reception. But there is a specific exclusion if a bride or groom gets cold feet and does not show at the last minute.

Pal Insurance Brokers Canada Ltd. is one company that offers Weddinguard insurance online. This insurance provides financial protection against many of those things that can go wrong with your wedding plans, subject to policy wording. You are eligible if you are getting married within 1 year and the reception date is at least three days in the future. You can see a pdf of the full policy and what it does and does not cover here.

You can get an online quote here. While researching this article I completed the online questionnaire for the four different levels of coverage and got the following pricing information, including up to $1 million of liability coverage.

Weddinguard Insurance

Potential reimbursement up to stated amount + premiums
Silver package Gold Package Diamond Package Platinum Package
Cancellation expenses $4,000 $10,000 $30,000 $50,000
Honeymoon cancellation $2,000 $2,500 $5,000 $5,000
Loss of Deposit $2,000 $3,000 $5,000 $6,000
Wedding photos and video $2,500 $5,000 $7,000 $7,500
Loss or damage to bridal attire $2,500 $2,500 $5,000 $7,000
Wedding presents $5,000 $5,000 $7,000 $8,000
Rings $1,000 $1,500 $3,000 $5,000
Cake and flowers $2,000 $2,500 $5,000 $6,000
Wedding stationery $1,000 $1,500 $3,000 $4,000
Rented property $1,000 $10,000 $15,000 $20,000
PREMIUM $250 $400 $650 $950

For destination weddings, PAL says underwriters must manually review the request for coverage which can take three or four days. There is also a special exclusion for Florida, Georgia and Caribbean weddings due to hurricane force winds in August, September and October.

Matt Taylor, general manager for PAL Insurance company recently told The Canadian Press that PAL sells between 1,500 to 2,000 wedding policies each year. Front Row Insurance also offers wedding insurance with policies starting at $105 and up to $5,000,000 in General Liability Coverage to cover damage to the wedding venue and injury to third parties.

Lacie Glover who blogs at  nerdwallet offers the following tips for buying the right policy for your wedding:

  • Look over your existing homeowners and renters insurance policies — or those of any relatives hosting or paying for the wedding — to see whether existing liability insurance will cover you.
  • Check the deductible, which is the amount deducted from a claims check. If one vendor doesn’t show up, and the deductible is higher than the deposit for that vendor, you’ll swallow the cost for that lost deposit.
  • Look at coverage limits. For cancellation coverage, you’ll want the limit to be close to your wedding budget, including the honeymoon.

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Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

Interview with Randy Bauslaugh: The one fund solution*

 

Click here to listen
Click here to listen

Hi. My name is Sheryl Smolkin, and today I’m interviewing Randy Bauslaugh for a savewithspp.com podcast. Randy is a partner at the McCarthy Tétrault law firm, where he leads the national pensions, benefits, and executive compensation practice. He has been involved with many of the leading pensions and benefits cases over the last 30 years, and he is also a member of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan.

Welcome, Randy. I’m so glad you could make time for us in your busy schedule.

Thanks. I’m happy to give back to the SPP.

That’s terrific. Randy has recently written an article titled Dumb and Dumber: Individual Investment Choice in DC Plans. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. 

Q: Randy, that’s a very provocative title for an article. Tell me about the independent research supporting your thesis that giving investment choice to plan members in defined contribution RPPs is riskier from a legal perspective and a bad idea from a financial performance perspective.
A: Sure. The research comes from various sources – research institutions, academics, news articles and a lot of that relates to the financial performance side. Also, on the legal side, I had a student a few years ago take a look, and there were 3,500 class actions relating to defined contribution plans particularly in the US and those were just relating to DC plan fees.

I think you can pick up any standard textbook on pensions and it will tell you that defined benefit plans have a low legal risk but potentially fatal financial risk. That’s because they guarantee the retirement payments. However, they always say DC plans have low financial risk, because the employer just contributes a fixed amount, but very high legal risk, because there are so many different ways of getting sued.

Q: Then why do DC plan sponsors typically provide a broad range of investment options for plan members?
A: Well, I don’t really know. I have some theories. Before the mid-1980s, most plans did not provide choice, and then it sort of became trendy. I think a lot of employers just believe that choice empowers their employees, or maybe it’s just because after all, who wants just one TV channel.

I also know for a fact that aside from individual empowerment or incentives for the financial industry, there are a lot of plan sponsors out there who think either they have a legal obligation to provide choice or they are somehow reducing their legal exposure if they do provide choice when exactly the opposite is true.

Q: What legal risks does offering multiple investment options raise for DC plan sponsors?
A: Well, one thing a client once said to me is, “Well, what about the (Capital Accumulation Plan) CAP guidelines? I need to provide choice to comply with the CAP guidelines.”  Financial market regulators put out something called Guidelines for Capital Accumulation Plans. Take a look at the table of contents and you’ll find a whole lot of ways of being sued under a DC plan that offers choice. I’ve got a slide presentation that just identifies 48 different ways in which plan members have sued their employers only over fees.

The other thing people should do is read the second paragraph of those guidelines. It says it applies where you’re giving two or more choices, so it doesn’t apply if you’re not giving any choice.

Q: Is providing only one investment option, such as a balanced fund, a set-and-forget strategy for plan sponsors, or do they still have active management and monitoring responsibilities?
A: They still have the active management and monitoring responsibilities. It’s definitely not just “let’s turn it on and forget about it.” Ideally, a DC plan should be managed like a defined-benefit fund. You may do a profile of what your current particular employee group looks like and then the investments can be shaped to that group’s profile, but you still need to manage it on a regular basis.

One of the advantages of a single fund is that you get professional management of the whole fund, not members making their own investment choices for their own little pots. Once you set it up, you should still review it every month or at least every quarter just to make sure that that fund has got an appropriate mix for your group.

Q: Why is a one-fund approach less expensive from a fees perspective for both plan sponsors and plan members?
A: Well, usually you can get economies of scale that will keep the fees down, because you’ve just got one big pot and not multiple little pots. I know that recently a lot of DC fund providers have dramatically reduced their fees for, say, balanced funds and other investment vehicles but some of the other esoteric funds are still pretty expensive. When you’ve got all these little individual accounts, you still have lots of transaction and other fees that are tied to those accounts. That tends to make them a bit more expensive than a pooled arrangement.

Q: Doesn’t having one or more investments managed by several investment managers better diversify a DC plan member’s portfolio and promote better overall returns?
A: Well, you can get that in a no-choice plan, as well, because you could have many managers that are managing different parts of the bigger pool. But the difference is you now have scale, and you’ve got professional management of the money.

Most plan members are not good at investing. In fact, only 7% or so of DC members can actually beat the rate of return of the average DB plan. One of the more interesting statistics that came up in the research was that only 3% of their professional advisors can beat the average rate of return of the average DB plan.

Q: What is a default fund, and what percentage of DC plan members typically invest in the default fund?
A: About 85% of the members in DC plans don’t make any choice at all. If they don’t make a choice, they end up in the “so-called” default fund. It’s a fund that you get into in default of making an election. Employers have to keep track of who is in the default fund because it’s not really clear whether it is just as a result of a decision or simply putting off investment of their money. It may actually be the plan member’s choice to go into the default fund.

In some surveys many members have said  that they thought the default fund must be the best fund because that’s the one the sponsor set up for people who don’t make decisions. Increasingly, what we’re seeing out there today, though, is people defaulting into what’s called a target date fund.

A target date fund is based on your age when you go into it, and as you start getting close to your retirement age, it will move your portfolio from largely stocks to largely bonds. That’s not a bad idea, because once you retire, the theory is you don’t have the capacity to make more income, so a loss just before retirement is undesirable.

One of my clients actually allows employees to choose their target date funds, and  they found that a number of people were choosing three of these target date funds because they weren’t sure if they were going to retire at age 55, 60 or 65. So they put a third of their money in each in case they retire early or later, which is probably the absolute worst thing they could do.

Q: How long have you been a member of Saskatchewan Pension Plan, Randy?
A: Probably about 10 years. I was at another firm some years ago, and they had a pension arrangement, and then when I came to this firm and they don’t. I just think SPP is a great idea.

I  know a lot of people … Even my own professional financial advisor questioned how I got into the SPP and asked whether I was born in the province. No, I wasn’t. It’s open to anybody, and it works just like an RRSP. Anyway, every year I just keep moving the maximum amount from my RRSP to the SPP, and I make the maximum contribution every year. I’m glad to see it’s gone up.

*This is the edited transcript of a podcast recorded in April 2018.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

May 7:Best from the blogosphere

I comb the blogosphere every week to come up with interesting links for this weekly column. I continue to be fascinated by bloggers who document “early retirement extreme,” (ERE) often in their 30s and 40s. It is important however to recognize that for many people, this does not mean completely leaving paid work behind. It simply means that they have accumulated a financial cushion which gives them the freedom to work less or do something different.

For example, last month Tim Stobbs wrote I Don’t Have Enough Money, But I Retired at 40 Anyway.  He says, “What I’m doing really isn’t a full on ‘I never plan to work again retirement’ but rather an ‘I plan on doing some fun work during a semi-retirement.’  And that little shift of wording regarding what I planned to do made a huge difference between being able to leave now and being able to leave two to five more years in the future.” Stobbs is going to take a stab at writing fiction first for some income and if that doesn’t work out he will consider other options.

Firecracker and Wanderer are married computer engineers who retired in their early 30s. They blog on Millenial Revolution. The built a seven-figure portfolio and live off the passive income which allows them to travel the world and work on projects they are passionate about. They offer a free 53-part series of investment workshops on their blog and they have been widely quoted in the media. But they also write children’s books, develop apps for non-profits and teach children how to code.

In a recent blog, Firecracker interviewed Derek Foster: Canada’s Other Youngest Retiree. Foster, who is well-known to savewithspp.com readers retired at age 34 and he and his wife had eight children since then. He supports his family primarily with dividends generated by his stock portfolio. However, the self-identified “Idiot Millionaire” wrote six investor books and offers portfolio picks for a fee on stopworking.ca. He also accepts paid speaking engagements.

Some people who retire extremely early go back to work a few years into their retirement and take on short-term consulting assignments for a limited period. For example, Retired Syd who packed it in at age 44 in 2007 took on an assignment for several years and returned to full-time retirement in August 2012.

Can or should you aim for ERE? It really depends on your personality and your priorities. I freely confess that I’m very far from a minimalist and I was never prepared to forgo a really significant component of current consumption to fund a frugal very extended retirement.

As Ben Carlson writes in Some Thoughts on the Extreme Early Retirement Movement, “I have a ton of respect for these people. There are so many people out there today who have a hard time saving any money at all. The fact that these people are willing and able to save enough money to become financially independent so early in their years requires a combination of discipline, hard work and planning that is rare these days.”

But like me, Carlson doesn’t see the ERE lifestyle working for him. He says,” To me, financial independence means not having to stress about money all the time; it means having enough money saved so a one-off expenditure won’t be a huge issue; it means having enough money to pamper myself every once and a while without feeling guilty; it means living life in a way that is rich to me personally.”

What does financial independence mean to you? Are you contemplating extreme early retirement?

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

April 30: Best from the blogosphere

Before the weather improves and we all want to be outside for the summer, get out the snacks because it’s time for one more personal finance movie night.

First of all, we feature the ever-engaging Bridget Casey from Money after Graduation. She explains why even in Calgary where public transportation is poor, she prefers to manage without a car. She says it saves her over $10,000/year and she is much healthier because she walks almost everywhere.

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TED Talks are influential videos from expert speakers on education, business, science, tech and creativity. Below we present videos of four excellent personal finance TED talks that are posted on YouTube.

Alexa von Tobel is the founder and CEO of LearnVest.com, the leading personal finance and lifestyle website that brings financial literacy to women. Since launching LearnVest, Alexa has been widely quoted as a personal finance expert and entrepreneur.

She takes you through the life of a very average new college grad, Jessica, and explains the pitfalls in each of the poor financial decisions Jessica makes and the way in which they affect her future.

Economist Shlomo Benartzi is a behavioral economist interested in combining the insights of psychology and economics to solve big societal problems. He talks about how we tend to want to spend money instead of saving which is fun in the present but causes major problems in retirement. In his talk, he asks: “How do we turn this behavioral challenge into a behavioral solution?”

The way people speak affects the way they save money. So many people view the future as a distant thing so they end up not saving for it right now. However, futureless language leads to the view that to get the future, it is important to think about the now. Saving money for the future is only possible if the money is managed properly right now. Keith Chen covers the whole topic extremely well. He explains just how those who use futureless language view the present and future as the same thing. It helps them take control of their finances right away.

So many parents give their children allowances, but it doesn’t really help them with their finances. This teaches children to think about a job, rather than expand their business ideas and build on their entrepreneurialism. Skills gained in younger years serve adults well when they’re looking into managing their finances.

Cameron Herald covers  how parents can help children become better entrepreneurs. He says that instead of expecting a set amount of money each week, it’s time to teach kids to start looking for the jobs that need doing around the house. The more they manage to do, the more they will make. They also get to negotiate the pay for doing the certain jobs.

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Written by Sheryl Smolkin

Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

The Cost of Funerals in Saskatchewan

In 2017 the life expectancy for the total Canadian population is projected to be 79 years for men and 83 years for women. Of course, some people will die younger and others will live into their 90s and beyond. However long you live, eventually your funeral expenses and other debts must be paid for before your executor can distribute your estate to beneficiaries. 

How much does a funeral cost?
Canadian Funerals Online (CFO) notes that historically the funeral industry has not openly disclosed funeral prices, and many funeral home websites do not even publish a price list. However, these days you can find more funeral homes providing open disclosure of the cost of various funeral packages. Nevertheless, the cost of a funeral can still vary significantly depending on where you live and which funeral services provider you use.

There are two corporate funeral companies operating in Canada – Service Corporation International [Branded as Dignity Memorial] and Arbor Memorial.  Although not a rule, CFO reports that typically corporate funeral homes can be more expensive than family-owned funeral homes and that in the funeral industry, economies of scale do not always operate in favour of consumers.

Therefore, it is highly recommended that you investigate prices from more than one funeral home. Of course, this may not be practical or possible in the stressful period following the death of a loved one.

In a recent article on lowestrates.ca, Rebecca Lee discussed how much it costs to die in Canada. She reported that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for the dozens of after-death decisions you’ll have to make. There’s also no one-size-fits-all price tag.

In an interview with Lee, Founder and CEO of Basic Funerals, Eric Vandermeersch, said that after-death costs can be as low as $1,500 or as high as $20,000. And while he pegged the average overall cost at $8,500, he admitted that the number varies wildly based on each person’s preferences, values, and culture.

“It’s like saying I want to buy a car, what should I budget for.” Vandermeersch explained. “There are a lot of options. There are people looking for just the basics and there are people looking for more traditional ceremonies.”

Lee enumerated some of the after-death arrangements you or your family will have to decide on. Some are required and others are mandatory. All costs are approximate and will vary based on city, province, and personal preference.

  1. Death certificate ($15-$22) and registration (about $55).
  2. Transfer services ($100+).
  3. Shroud, casket, or urn ($0-$3,000+).
  4. Body preparation ($125-$525)..
  5. Formal ceremonies (visitation, memorial, funeral) plus staffing fees ($2,000 and beyond).
  6. Burial plots and niches ($1,000 and beyond).
  7. Burial or cremation services ($1,000 and beyond).

Burial vs. Cremation
According to CFO, as a very general guide a cremation is likely to cost a quarter of the cost of a burial.  A simple, direct cremation in Canada can start at around $600, whereas a cremation with a service, and extra disbursements (obituary notice, viewing, funeral flowers, etc), may cost in the region of $4,500.  As mentioned above, cremation service costs will vary depending upon your province and area. The cremation rate in Canada is at 65% making cremation by far the popular choice for families today.

Direct cremation is becoming more popular.  A direct cremation is when the deceased is simply collected from the place of death and transferred to the funeral home or crematory for an immediate cremation.  No service is conducted prior to the cremation [although sometimes a brief family viewing is conducted].

The cremated remains are returned to the family within a few days in a basic urn.  This is the least expensive means by which to conduct a funeral.  It can even be arranged online today, without the need to visit a funeral home.  Family can then arrange their own memorial at a later date at a place that suit the family.  This also puts the family in control of the memorial process, instead of paying a funeral home for this service.

CPP Death Benefit
The Canada Pension Plan death benefit is a one-time, lump-sum payment to your estate that can help to pay for funeral costs. The amount of the death benefit depends on how much and for how long you contributed to the CPP.  In January 2016, the average death benefit paid was $2,296.85 and the maximum was $2,500.

To calculate the amount of the death benefit, Service Canada first calculates the amount that the CPP retirement pension is or would have been if the deceased was age 65 at the time of death. The death benefit is equal to six months’ worth of this calculated retirement pension up to a maximum of $2,500.

If an estate exists, the executor named in the will or the administrator named by the Court to administer the estate applies for the death benefit. The executor should apply for the benefit within 60 days of the date of death.

If no estate exists or if the executor has not applied for the death benefit, payment may be made to other persons who apply for the benefit in the following order of priority:

  • The person or institution that has paid for or that is responsible for paying for the funeral expenses of the deceased.
  • The surviving spouse or common-law partner of the deceased.
  • The next-of-kin of the deceased.

The death benefit is equal to six months’ worth of this calculated retirement pension up to a maximum of $2,500.

Also see:
Saskatchewan Funeral Costs Guide
The Prepaid Funeral: Advantages & Disadvantages

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Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

April 23: Best from the blogosphere

On April 10, 2018 the Saskatchewan government tabled its 2018-19 budget. It forecasts revenues at $14.24 billion, with spending at $14.61 billion, leaving a $365 million deficit.

Provincial sales tax remains steady at 6% but the PST exemption has been eliminated for used light vehicles with the exception of used vehicles sold privately and purchased for less than $5,000. Exemptions will also be made for used vehicles gifted between family members.

However, the budget does restore the trade-in-allowance when determining PST. This means PST is only applied to the difference between the value of the trade-in and the selling price of the vehicle being purchased.

The PST exemption on Star Energy Appliances has also been discontinued effective April 11th. PST will also be applied to the retail sale of cannabis, although revenue generated from this has not been included in the budget because there is still considerable uncertainty as to how much will be raised.

The Saskatchewan Party government announced a 3.5% wage reduction to public sector employee compensation in last year’s budget, amounting to a projected savings of $250 million, but that plan does not appear in this year’s budget.

The government is aiming for $70 million in compensation savings over the next two years. It says this will be achieved through “efficiency initiatives” and “overtime management.” Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer told CBC, “There are no layoffs related to this budget.”

There will be $5.77 billion more for health care spending in the new budget with the biggest chunk for the newly created Saskatchewan Health Authority. The province is also committing $11.4 million in new money for mental health initiatives, which the province said will cover the cost of hiring 40 new full-time positions. Furthermore, HIV medications will now be 100%  covered at an additional cost of $600,000. In addition, children under the age of six with Autism Spectrum Disorder are now eligible for $4,000 in government money per year, which is a total investment of $2.8 million.

The Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement designed to help low income families and people with disabilities pay their rent will be replaced by a program co-developed with the federal government slated for implementation in 2020. As of July 1, 2018, the province will stop taking applications, but clients enrolled before then will continue to receive benefits.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

Part 2: Tax deductions, credits you need to know about

If you are anticipating a large tax return you may have filed your income tax return as early as possible once you received all of your tax slips. The deadline for filing is April 30, 2018, but for Canadians who ran a business, or whose spouses ran a business, during the 2017 fiscal year, the tax deadline is pushed out to June 15.

However, for those of you who are still wading through the piles of paper on your desk to assemble the documentation you need to complete your 2017 income tax return, we present Part 2: Tax deductions, credits you need to know about. You can find Part 1 here.

    1. Line 212 – Annual union, professional dues: Claim the total of the following amounts related to your employment that you paid (or that were paid for you and reported as income) in the year:
      • Annual dues for membership in a trade union or an association of public servants.
      • Professional board dues required under provincial or territorial law.
      • Professional or malpractice liability insurance premiums or professional membership dues required to keep a professional status recognized by law.
      • Parity or advisory committee (or similar body) dues required under provincial or territorial law.
    2. Line 214 – Child care expenses: Canadian taxpayers can claim up to $8,000 per child for children under the age of 7 years at the end of the year, and $5,000 per child for children aged 7 to 16 years. For disabled, dependent children of any age who qualify for the disability tax credit, the amount to claim for that child is $11,000. More details about what expenses qualify, who can claim expenses and for whom expenses may be claimed can be found here.
    3. Line 219 – Moving expenses: To qualify, your new home must be at least 40 kilometres (by the shortest usual public route) closer to your new work or school. You can claim eligible moving expenses if you moved:
      • And established a new home to work or run a business at a new location; or
      • To be a student in full-time attendance in a post-secondary program at a university, college or other educational institution.
    4. Line 229 – Other employment expenses: Most employees cannot claim employment expenses. You cannot deduct the cost of travel to and from work, or other expenses, such as most tools and clothing. However, you can deduct certain expenses (including any GST/HST) you paid to earn employment income.You can do this only if your employment contract required you to pay the expenses and you did not receive an allowance for them, or the allowance you received is included in your income.If you are filing electronically, keep all your documents in case CRA asks to see them at a later date. If you are filing a paper return, you must submit a completed Form T777, Statement of Employment Expenses with your return. Keep all your other documents in case CRA asks to see them at a later date, including a completed copy of Form T2200, Declaration of Conditions of Employment signed by your employer.
    5. Lines 230 and 220 – Support payments made: If you are claiming deductible support payments, enter on line 230 of your tax return the total amount of support payments you paid under a court order or written agreement. This includes any non-deductible child support payments you made. Do not include amounts you paid that are more than the amounts specified in the order or agreement, such as pocket money or gifts that you sent directly to your children.
    6. Line 313 – Adoption expenses: As a parent, you can claim an amount for eligible adoption expenses related to the adoption of a child who is under 18 years of age. The maximum claim for each child is $15,670. You can only claim these incurred expenses in the tax year including the end of the adoption period for the child.
    7. Line 319 – Interest paid on your student loans: You may be eligible to claim an amount for the interest paid on your loan in 2017 or the preceding five years for post-secondary education if you received it under:

      Only you can claim an amount for the interest you, or a person related to you, paid on that loan in 2017 or the preceding five years.

      You can claim an amount only for interest you have not already claimed. If you have no tax payable for the year the interest is paid, it is to your advantage not to claim it on your return. You can carry the interest forward and apply it on your return for any of the next five years.

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Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

April 16: Best from the blogosphere

Spring almost sprung over Easter weekend, but as I write this blog it is the day after high winds and power outages. Today we woke up to snowdrops peeping through the snow on the ground. I think T.S. Eliot was on to something when he wrote in The Wasteland, that “April is the cruelest month.”

This week we preview a selection of blogs from a series of well-known Canadian personal finance writers.

Alan Whitton, aka BigCajunMan writes about Serial Refinancers. Serial refinancers just keep going back to the well and refinancing their debts with consolidation loans or similar debt vehicles. Much like serial murder (or murder in general), he says this is very bad! Consolidation or refinancing of a debt is supposed to be something you do once (if ever), not every 2 years.

In Paying Off Debt: An Effective Budgeting Approach, Doris Belland (Your Financial Launchpad) discusses two families to illustrate that cutting back sports activities in one family to save money is not necessarily the appropriate solution for the other household. According to Belland, two things are necessary to slay the debt monster: an understanding of why you got into debt in the first place, and knowledge of what you value.

What Happens If You Die Without a Will?  Your will reflects how you want your estate to be distributed upon your death. However, when you die intestate, the distribution is decided by a formula laid down by the Provincial Government—not you—and this formula can vary from province to province. “When you die intestate, an estate administrator will be appointed to wind up your estate and make any distributions to your beneficiaries,” Robin Taub explains. “Dying intestate may mean higher costs and delays in distributing assets to beneficiaries, compared to having a will appointing an executor of your choice.”

Once you stop working, your objective shifts from growing your investment portfolio to generating income from it. Many retirees obsess over generating enough retirement cash flow from their investments. They prefer a predictable stream of income to partially replace their previous salary income. Marie Engen explores some strategies for Generating Retirement cash flow from your Investments on the Financial Independence Hub. For example, you can withdraw only income (interest or dividend income); reinvest income, dividend and capital gains, take the amount you need for their annual living expenses and then rebalance; or purchase an annuity.

Planning a train trip? Money We Have’s Barry Choi offers 10 Train Travel Hacks You Need to Know . He suggests that you book early, use all available discounts, pack some food and don’t forget to bring your portable charger to avoid running out of juice. If you’re on an overnight train, earplugs and a sleeping mask can be helpful. Having your phone or tablet fully loaded with music and videos will keep you entertained.

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Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.