The ABC’s of RESPs


An “RESP” (a Registered Education Savings Plan) is similar to an RRSP in that it uses “registered” savings to tax-defer the growth in the plan. An RESP is often used to save for a child’s post-secondary education, but can be used for anyone planning to attend a qualifying program.

For children’s RESPs, the government also contributes between 20-40% (to a maximum) through the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). As with the RRSP, the earlier you open an RESP, the longer your savings have to grow.

While it’s not crucial that you use an RESP to save for education costs, it is important to plan how and who will be covering the cost. As we all know, the cost of a post-secondary degree is climbing and, with inflation, it’s a whopping big number. The Globe and Mail points out a few things to keep in mind about RESPs and if you’re in BC, don’t miss out on the age 6 BC Training & Education Savings Grant (BCTESG) of $1,200. 

There are a number of questions to ask, before opening an RESP (here is a short list):

  1. Are there any fees (account opening, annually, transfers out, closing the account, etc.)?
  2. What are the investment choices available?
  3. What happens if the child does not attend a qualifying program?

For more information, visit:
Government of Canada Guide to RESPs  

How Does Health Insurance Work?

If you are self-employed or your employer doesn’t offer benefits, you might be stuck paying for your own health costs. In Canada, we are fortunate to have a Pharmacare, but it does not pay for all health expenses. That’s where personal health insurance comes in.

What does it cover?

Health Insurance covers a variety of different expenses, depending on the plan you choose. Generally, they cover a percentage of:

  1. The cost of prescriptions after Pharmacare’s benefit
  2. Basic dental costs like X-rays, cleanings, and fillings
  3. Eye exams and glasses
  4. Certain professional or registered services like massage and chiropractic
  5. Selected medical supplies

Each of these categories will pay a maximum amount of money each year. For example, your prescription drug coverage might cap out at $1,000 per year.

Many plans will also have travel insurance built-in, coverage for hearing aids, and other, smaller benefits. So be sure to shop around!

What does it cost?

These plans vary quite a bit in cost. However, dental coverage is usually what makes one plan more expensive than another. Plans that offer less dental coverage or none at all are typically more affordable.

A plan with all of the coverages listed above and more would cost an individual ~$80/month. With the option to have coverage for the whole family for a higher, set price.

What type of health questions do they ask?

While much less invasive than life or disability insurance, a health insurance application will still ask a number of questions. Including but not limited to:

  1. Whether anyone going on the plan is on medications or receiving treatment currently, like regular massage therapy
  2. If you’ve just left or are about to leave a group plan (this may give you more options)
  3. About any health conditions you have experienced in the last number of months or years, depending on the Insurer

The Insurance Company will want to know when symptoms started, what the cause was, if there was a resolution, and about prescriptions.

What if I already take medications or receive treatment for pain?

Medications you already take will be considered a pre-existing condition and typically so will treatment you are already receiving.

Insurance Companies will not usually cover pre-existing conditions and specify in your policy what, if any, the exclusions are.

The exception is with a non-medically underwritten policy.

In these policies, the Insurer does not ask questions about your health nor do they exclude pre-existing conditions. The trade-off for this extra coverage is typically less coverage for more money.

How do I buy it?

You can buy health insurance from an Insurance Advisor or Broker, select companies have applications on their website, or you can call the Insurance company and have one of their agents sign you up.

We will always recommend that you work with a Broker as they can show you options from multiple companies, getting you the best fit for no extra cost.

At Iron & Pearl Financial, we can offer coverage through four different Canadian carriers. Get Started Here.

Your Holiday Budget Guide

Did you know that 42% of Canadians don’t have a budget for the Holidays? A CPA Canada study says that most of us PLAN to spend less but only about half will budget. And 1 in 5 admit they’re gonna blow whatever budget they didn’t create. In response, we’ve created Your Holiday Budget Guide!

Use this guide to plan your Holiday budget and check out our Take the Mystery out of Your Money worksheet for the New Year!

Holidays are busy and budgeting isn’t fun. But, and especially if lowering stress and self-care is going to be a New Year’s Resolution, it’s a necessity!

What can you do about it? Well, we’re glad you asked!

When it comes to budgeting, making a plan is the best route! There are 10 tips in your Holiday Budget Guide. You’ll find a few of them have helpful links – be sure to click on those!

Grab your freebie below!

1. Think back to last year:

How much did you spend? Did it seem worth it?

2. Pick a number: 

BEFORE you get to the store, decide how much you’ll spend on each person, and keep track of that number.

3. Shop for deals: 

We all have a little computer stashed in our pocket (your smartphone!). Before you hand your card over, do a quick search online and see if another store has a sale on that item.

4. Send an e-card:

If you like to send a Holiday card each year, why not send an e-card? It’s MUCH cheaper (FREE most often) and so much better for the environment.

5. Know why you’re giving the gift: 

Think of that one person (or group of people) that you “have to buy a gift for.” Just in case you need it, here’s your permission to NOT buy them anything. It doesn’t make you cheap or a scrooge. You’re not obliged to buy presents! That’s an idea that’s been sold to you.

6. How many leftovers do you want?:

In our family, we joke about ‘pawning off’ the leftovers so the cook doesn’t have to eat half a turkey 😆 But think about how silly that is! If you find you have a tonne of leftovers each year, try cooking a little less. Now that’s a win-win! Another option is that, after dinner, you bring a warm dinner and a fork downtown for a homeless neighbour.

7. Pick a name: 

For the last few years, our family has been drawing names using this program. (not an affiliate link) It’s made Christmas so much easier! We each pick one name and have a spending limit. It’s really helped our budget and we all leave with things we actually wanted; no ‘filler presents’.

8. Try a more needs-based approach to buying for kids:

One thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, one thing to readand one thing for the family.

9. Limit your decor: 

I have a deal with myself to not get more than the 1 bin I have for Holiday decorations (not including the tree). Now, that might be unrealistic for you, especially if you have kids. Maybe it’s 3 or 4 bins. Whatever it is, limit yourself to what fits in the space you’ve allowed. Remember, you’re paying for those items, the bin, AND the storage space they’re in – think storage lockers and extra sqft in your home. If you find a piece you LOVE, something else has to go!

10. Don’t be afraid of change: 

I’m a huge fan of traditions. Especially Holiday traditions! But if they’re not serving you anymore, consider making a change. For example, if you always open a few presents on Christmas Eve (which means you have to buy ‘enough’ for Christmas Day too), try switching it up! A family game and a movie might be even more memorable.

I hope these Holiday budget tips come in handy this season! 

Remember, when the lights are taken down, the credit card still has to be paid! It’s worth planning a little now to save yourself from money stress in the New Year.

Download Link: Your Holiday Budget Guide

P.S. Interested in ‘conscious consumerism”?  Check out this video on social responsibility. 

Would this blog have been helpful to find just a few weeks before the Holidays? Sign up for our newsletter to get helpful tools like this right when you need them!

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The Family Talk You Need To Have

talk to your family about insurance

Today we’re going to tell you a story. Not that it could happen to you. These things always happen to other people.

This story is fictional but based on real events. It’s a great example of why we need to ask the none of your business questions and talk to your family about insurance.

Paul and Mary Robson are 60-years-old and still paying off the mortgage on their family home. They both still work so that they can retire mortgage-free and, hopefully, with a little extra cash. They’re running low on savings but still hope they can take a trip somewhere warm next Spring. 

Paul and Mary get a phone call from their son, Mike: his two-year-old, Andrew -their grandson- has been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).

Treatments are to begin immediately – at a hospital that’s hours away from home.

Panic has set in. Mike is beside himself. His wife and other two children are packing right now. 

Paul and Mary are frozen. They get off the phone, hug each other, and cry. 

After long trips to the hospital, food, and accommodation, loss of income for Mike and his wife, childcare costs for the other kids, medication, and comfort items for Andrew, the bills add up fast. Even with help from family and friends, the costs were staggering.

A bank friend asks Mike if he has critical illness coverage on his spouse or children. He doesn’t. But he remembers his parents getting some sort of coverage on their grandkids, last year.

He calls Paul and Mary who call their financial advisor. It turns out that yes, The Robsons had gotten coverage on all three grandkids: Critical Illness Insurance

Thirty days after Andrew’s diagnosis, the paperwork is off. His condition qualifies under the definitions and The Robsons receive a cheque for $100,000.

The Robsons consider themselves extremely blessed. Mike cannot imagine the stress other families feel when their costs are not covered. His marriage was at the breaking point and money wasn’t even an issue.

We couldn’t write this post without crying. Although the story above is fictional, it is based on real-life and it happens. Take the time to help your loved ones realize the importance of covering their bases.

It may not happen to you, but it will happen to someone.

 We need to ask the none of your business question and talk to our family – parents, siblings, and kids – about insurance.

Preparing for a Financial Review

financial review

Preparing for a financial review can easily turn into a case of information overload. Your financial life likely has a lot of moving parts and your task is to figure out where they all are.

To make sure your meeting is as productive as possible, start a list of the information you should have.

Watch the video for a full explanation or continue reading for the summary.

When you sit down with a Financial Planner or Money Coach, their goal is to get as much information about your finances as they can.

In order to do that, they’ll need information about all of your financial commitments, your budget, and your goals.

If you think of any concerns or questions as you are getting this paperwork together, be sure to write them down so they can be discussed with your Advisor.

Use the list below to make your first meeting as productive as possible!

The 6 pieces of information you should have before a financial review:

  1. Tax Documents
  2. Investment, RRSP, and Pension
  3. Debts and Loans
  4. Insurance & Will
  5. Short & Long Term Goals
  6. Income
    • Track your expenses:
      • Rent/mortgage
      • Property taxes/strata fees (if applicable), home/contents insurance
      • Utilities (phone, internet, heat, hydro, etc.)
      • Charitable donations
      • Food (groceries + eating out)
      • Entertainment (booze, movies, coffee breaks, clubs, shows, etc.)Insurance payments (ICBC, MSP, etc.)
      • Loan payments (student loans, car loans, line of credit, etc.)
      • Clothes/make-up, dry cleaning, personal items, glasses/contact lenses, etc.
      • Gifts (birthday, baby shower, wedding)
      • Travel (vacation, holiday, ski trip, festival, etc.)
      • Pets
      • Children (RESPs, school, activities, etc.)

Knowing or having the documentation for 6 topics above should cover everything that your Advisor needs to know.

However, as everyone is different, this isn’t an exhaustive list.

Working with the right Financial Advisor can make all the difference when creating the right plan for you. 

Our Certified Financial Planner®, Alyx, and our Money Coach, Jen, would be happy to help you create a plan that works for your lifestyle and goals.

Happy planning!

Getting Your First Life Insurance Policy

life insurance

Getting your first Life Insurance policy can seem like a daunting task. There are so many options and, of course, you want to make sure you’re prepared for it all and at the right price.

Let us start you on the first step.

Watch the video below to learn about the two types of Life Insurance and how to combine them for a better price!

When getting your first Life Insurance Policy, you first need to pick between Term and Permanent Insurance.

Term Insurance is like your car – you pay into it when you need it and when you don’t, you cancel. These policies are very affordable but aren’t worth anything and the prices will go up when you renew. Common terms are ten or twenty years.

A 35-year-old couple buying Term Insurance for a 20-year term and a $500,000 benefit, would pay roughly $70 /month together.

Permanent Insurance is a more robust option. You have a policy as long as you’re paying the premium and the price won’t go up. These policies can also accumulate a cash value that you can withdraw, invest, or use to pay for the policy itself. As you can imagine, these policies are much more expensive.

A 35-year-old couple buying Permanent insurance with a $500,000 benefit would pay roughly $400 /month together.

Here’s the trick to getting a better price: COMBINE THEM

Most of the expenses we have today, we won’t have in retirement. Because term insurance increases in price so significantly as you age, it’s generally not a good long term solution. And permanent insurance is out of many peoples’ price range.

BUT if you buy term insurance that will cover your 35-year mortgage and a permanent insurance policy that will pay a small sum of money when you pass away (to cover funeral expenses, etc.), your price will be much lower. It’s called stacking. 

In the example below, you can see that our sample couple bought insurance at age 35. They bought term coverage that they will keep until they’re 65 and don’t expect to have the same expenses. They also bought a small permanent insurance policy to cover their end-of-life expenses.

If our example couple above chose to do that, they would pay roughly $170 /month together.

Working with a Life Insurance Broker is the best way to view your options from many different insurance companies and find one that works for your lifestyle and values.

Making An Emergency Fund When You Don’t Have The Money

making an emergency fund

64% of Canadians have an emergency fund to cover three months of expenses 👏👏👏

An emergency fund is there to help when something unexpected happens – You can’t work for a period of time, get laid off, the washing machine breaks, etc.

But that means that MANY Canadians AREN’T prepared for a financial emergency.

If you fall under that 36% of people, it’s likely for one of two reasons:

  1. You didn’t realize how important they are (if that’s you, read this)
  2. You don’t have the money to make one

Most fall under the second category. And if that’s you, we have one simple change you can make to build an emergency fund when you don’t have the money.

Save once a week.

That’s the trick.

Saving once a month or taking money off of each paycheque works great when you have the money. The problem comes into play when you already KNOW things will be tight or when you’re hit with an unexpected bill.

Adding to your emergency fund will be the first thing axed because, of course, it already feels like an emergency.

If rather than saving $100 per month, we break down our savings to $25 a week, for example, it’s easier to do consistently. And, when it comes to finances, consistency is key. Most people can find $25 even on lean weeks.

Are you winging it with your finances?

There are 2 keys to making this work:

  1. You must automate it
    Manually transferring money over gives you the option to forget and to debate whether you can this week. Do not give yourself that option.
  2. You must put the money into a separate account
    And it’s best if that’s not accessible by bank card. I chose to use a TFSA but a professional who is familiar with your situation will be able to advise best. Jen, our Money Coach, would be happy to help you with that.

Making an emergency plan when you don’t have the money can take time. So be patient with yourself. It takes time and effort to build plans like this.

But it’s worth it to know that you and your family will be taken care of.

How Much Does A Financial Planning Professional® Spend On Her Wedding?

how much does a financial planner spend on her wedding?

Here’s the post and answer many of you have waited for – how much does a Financial Planning Professional® who encourages frugality spend on her wedding?

My husband and I have been married for 8 years now and a frugal wedding has afforded us a number of opportunities we may not have had otherwise. A beautiful home and two awesome kiddos, to start!

I’ll sheepishly say, we spent more than I thought we would. But I wouldn’t change a thing.

As you can imagine, a lot of planning went into this wedding even though it was PLANNED IN 3 WEEKS! This is what we did to stay frugal.

  1.  We had many discussions about our budget (surprise! surprise!) because we knew we didn’t want to go into debt
  2. We gave ourselves less time to plan so that we were limited in what we could do
  3. We went for NICE not extravagant 
  4. We got married during the week
  5. We kept it small – about 24 guests
  6. We picked one thing to splurge on
  7. We accepted as much help as we could get

Could we have done the wedding cheaper? Absolutely.

Especially if we didn’t know there would be some cash given to use. Would I change anything at all? Absolutely not.

Total Wedding Cost: ~$7,500

The Value of Time & Money

time and money

“Not enough” is a phrase we use A LOT. There’s not enough time in the day or money in our bank accounts. The truth is, when it comes to time and money, it’s all about value.

The value that YOU feel you can give or receive in a situation.

Most people have the money to attend a Shania Twain concert. However, if we don’t see value in it, we’ll quickly decline the invitation and choose to spend our time and money elsewhere.

On the contrary, if this is the last tour she’s going on and our best friend is asking, you’d better believe the time and money would be found!

Nothing has changed but how we value the event.

My value for my time is that I do what I enjoy doing.

There are many things we all have to do that we don’t want to – cleaning the bathroom and filing taxes to name a few.

But, when the choice is there, OWN IT.

It’s all about priorities. When we want something, we will find a way to make it happen. Whether that’s moving a schedule around or pulling longer days to bring in extra income.

So, I’ve changed my narrative from “I don’t have enough [time or money]” to “I’ve chosen to do something else instead.”

This simple change in the way I talk to myself has helped me to manage my time and money around the things that are important to me.

By paying attention to the way we talk to ourselves, we can manage our time and money on the things that are important to us.

So, what’s important to you?

Should I Name A Beneficiary?

should I name a beneficiary

Let’s say that you’re filling out a financial form and get to the part where they ask for a Beneficiary name. Why not just leave it to your estate? It can seem like an extra piece of information to give until you understand WHY you need a Beneficiary.

You need a beneficiary to ensure that your money, whether from investments or an insurance policy, goes to the right person or entity.

Unless your lawyer advises otherwise, most people should avoid naming their Estate as the beneficiary (the default).

Funds left to the Estate may be subject to probate or other fees and could get held up. This generally takes over a year to complete. It’s not worth the headache if your loved ones would need the funds sooner than that.

As the owner of the policy or account, you choose who the beneficiary is and can make changes at any time.

Your beneficiary will not have access to your accounts or information. They will simply be given the money once you pass. This is called a Revocable Beneficiary.

The exception to this is to name an Irrevocable Beneficiary. They still cannot make changes to your account or see your information. BUT you cannot make certain changes to your own account, including changing the beneficiary, without their permission. 

Beneficiaries should always be identified by name.

Generics like “my spouse” or “my children” can be ambiguous in the future if, at death, you are in a new relationship or have step-children.

Depending on your personal situation, you may choose to name your partner, parents, or other loved ones as your beneficiary. You can name more than one beneficiary but will need to choose what percentage each party will receive.

As this article is for general information only, be sure to talk to a professional about your specific situation before making any decisions.

And remember, your beneficiary should be updated as required! Checking your policies every two years to ensure your information is up to date is a good habit.

How to Separate Your Finances After a Breakup

separate your finances after a breakup

We like to keep our topics focused on building your future and growing your finances. But sometimes things fall apart. Relationships break down and you need to figure out how to divide what you’ve built together. If you find yourself needing to separate finances after a breakup, here are some of the financial aspects you will need to get in order. Working with a professional will ensure all your bases are covered.

Who gets the house?

If you own it, you will likely be contacting a professional to split it. If you’re renting, whose name is on the lease, and can it easily be changed?

Whoever is moving will need to make sure that their address is updated. Use the Government’s website to change your address with the main regulatory agencies.

Also, update Your address with:
  •       Your bank and credit card company
  •       Investment Accounts
  •       Insurance Policies – life, health, house, car
  •       Loans or debt accounts
  •       Service accounts you hold (i.e. cellphone, hydro)
  •       Regulatory agencies you report to
  •       Your employer

How do you separate finances after a breakup?

You have a few options.

If you had a joint bank account, remove one of the names after splitting the funds. Make sure that all automatic withdrawals or deposits coming from the partner who was removed have been redirected.

Otherwise, you can each open your own chequing account and move your automatic deposits and withdrawals there. We suggest leaving your joint chequing account open for a few weeks until you’re sure you haven’t missed anything.

Now, take inventory of your new financial picture. Create your OWN budget and goals to start strong in this new chapter of life.


If you have investments, decide which ones need to be split (if a lawyer is involved, they will advise). Remember to change the beneficiary on your RRSPs and TFSAs.

To avoid trouble down the road, keep some form of paper trail on what you’ve decided together. If you’re working with a lawyer, they will likely do this for you. If it was a verbal agreement, consider sending an email or screenshot a text message between the two of you, of your agreement.

The only constant in life is death and taxes.

Take inventory of your bills. Change the account holder of any household bills to the person staying in the home. Separate the accounts that you’ve been sharing together – like family phone plans and gym memberships.

Be sure to update the beneficiary (unless required for a loan, children, etc.) on your individual and employee group life insurance policies. It is best to make your beneficiary an actual person, instead of your estate, unless advised otherwise by your lawyer.

If you have health coverage, either remove the ex-partner or talk with your provider about a continuation of benefit coverage or other options available.

The partner being removed, if applicable, should still submit all receipts for services incurred before the separation to get the reimbursement they are entitled to.

If you are working with a lawyer, they will guide you through the process of separating finances after a breakup. They can advise regarding beneficiary changes and agreements you need to make. This list is not exhaustive and there are many more details to work out.

Sending you strength through this difficult time 

5 Steps to Stop Emotional Spending

Stop Emotional Spending

Do you find yourself in the Household section of Superstore or opening the Amazon app on crappy days? Putting things in your cart that you really don’t need, in an effort to feel rewarded for the day’s frustrations and indulge in a little retail therapy? Until you look at your bank statement and realize how quickly those purchases add up.

If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. 63% of Canadians admit to impulsive shopping and we spend about $8.8 BILLION on it collectively, every year.

It’s easy to get stuck in a ‘stress and spend’ cycle of feeling bad for your purchases, getting stressed, then emotional spending, even more, to try and feel better. 

Stop emotional spending

We’re going to give you 5 steps to stop emotional spending.

First, forgive yourself. Beating yourself up is more likely to perpetuate emotional spending. Life can be overwhelming and finding comfort is so important. Good for you for recognizing the pattern and working towards change ❤

It’s time to stop emotional spending and replace the habit with something new. Our brains aren’t wired to listen to “stop doing that” but, they are wired for “do this instead”. That’s why replacing the habit, rather than telling yourself to just stop, is really important.

Here are a few things to try, to replace the habit:

  • Meditation
  • A walk
  • Cooking your favorite meal
  • Making something – knitting, painting, gardening
  • Reaching out to family or friends and admitting that you need some support today

Committing to a self-care practice may also be helpful. Check out our blog on that topic.

You’re right, it might not feel as comforting the first time. But, over time, your brain will learn to find just as much (or more) comfort in your healthier habit.

Next, remove easy access to spending.

Delete your Amazon app, remove notifications for Facebook marketplace, take credit cards out of your wallet, and delete any saved credit card information from your apps – you didn’t think we’d forget that one did you? 😉.


Now that you don’t have the immediate temptation, it’s important to give yourself the right tools to adjust.

The next time you’re feeling tempted to indulge in some retail therapy, ask yourself – Would I buy this item if it wasn’t on sale? or How many hours would I have to work to pay for this?

This has helped me catch myself – just because it’s 60% off, doesn’t mean it’s a smoking deal. If I saw this item, and this was the regular price, would I be snatching it up as fast? Or would I be keeping an eye out for a sale? Realizing how much it would really cost can be very sobering.

The last suggestion we have for you is to make goals and a budget.

Turning down something you really want to buy is crazy difficult. Knowing you need to choose between this item and a weeklong Caribbean vacation, however, is much easier.

Give yourself a bigger goal to work towards so that you’re not giving an item up, you’re choosing something better!

These beginner savings tips will help you get started.

Those are the five steps to stop emotional spending. They really will work if you commit to them. Retail therapy is a hard habit to break, so give yourself credit for every step that you take.

Can I Get Insurance If I Smoke Marijuana in Canada

We’re a few days away from what cannabis culture calls an “international counterculture holiday”. Where peaceful protests are held internationally every April 20th to smoke the herb and advocate for legalization. A year and a half ago, recreational marijuana was legalized in Canada. It’s had many people asking – can you get insurance if you smoke marijuana in Canada? Yes, you can.

First, cannabis smokers generally don’t get smoker’s rates anymore.

If you’re not familiar, smoker’s rates double your insurance bill (or more). So, this is a big one.

You can also smoke more often and still get insurance. If you use it more than 2-3x per week, you’ll be limited in what companies you can apply for and it may cost more.

One of the things we haven’t figured out as an industry is how to phrase the question.

Some applications ask how many “times per week” others ask about “joints per week”. The discrepancy comes into play when you have a low tolerance or are micro-dosing. A standard sized joint can be finished in one sitting for some people but would take 2-3 sittings for another. Your Advisor will be able to walk you through this when the time comes.

If you answer ‘yes’ to the marijuana use question on an insurance application, your advisor needs to know if it’s recreational or medicinal use.

If you want to know more about medicinal use, watch this video. And you may need to fill out a ‘drug questionnaire form’, or answer additional questions about usage.

It really is quite easy to get insurance if you smoke marijuana in Canada

Spring Clean Your Paperwork

Does spring cleaning make you think of new beginnings or want to run? On our team, Brittany spring cleans for fun and Alyx would rather spend that time sewing or with family. The most difficult part about spring cleaning must be figuring out how to organize paperwork. Especially if your paper organizing strategy has a lot to do with paper piles. Let’s talk about how we can organize paperwork while we spring clean.

First, decide if you want hard copies or to make it digital.

Keep in mind that you will need hard copies of some forms and that anything you make digital should be backed up (cloud, email, external hard drive).

Locate the following and make a pile on the floor or a folder (physical or digital) for each:

  • Wills
  • Mortgage documents
  • Life insurance policies
  • Health and dental plan booklet
  • Tax returns and Notice of Assessments
  • Home and car insurance policies
  • Banking documents
  • Loan statements
  • RRSP/TFSA/RESP statements
  • Receipts to save

Now that you know where it all is and whether you want hard copies or digital copies, we can organize the “paperwork”. We’ll give you a few options on how to do this.

Option 1: Quick fix for hard copies

Use a boxy file folder with each slot labeled for all the above information.

In January each year, take out old statements, receipts, warranties, and either shred, put into a tax folder, or move to a locked metal document box in the basement. That locked metal box is where you’ll keep your passports, marriage license, warranties, copies of wills, and other long-term important documents. Bonus points if your metal locked box is fire and flood-proof!

Chances are, you have some paperwork on your computer – emailed receipts and such – that also need a home. We suggest either printing those off and putting them in your boxy file folder or reading option 2 and applying it just to those documents. Of course, you would simply substitute scanning your documents by saving them directly into the appropriate digital file.

Option 2: Make it digital

Start by making a folder on your computer for personal documents. Within your folder, create a file for each pile that you have – Will, Mortgage docs, receipts, etc.

Then, working with one pile at a time, scan the documents onto your computer. Change the name of each document to its proper title so that you can find it easily later.

You can organize paperwork as specific as you’d like with this.

You might be content keeping your documents in these main category files and scrolling through for what you need.

Or, you might want to make it more specific. For example, you can have a main folder for your banking documents and create sub-folders within that to separate your statements, contracts, notices, etc.

Remember to have backups of all digital files.

Option 3: Put it all in a locked filing cabinet

organized filing cabinet

This is similar to going digital, but for hard copies. You’ll organize paperwork by making a hanging file for each category with a label.

Then, if you want to make documents easier to find, label a file folder to make more specific categories.

You’ll notice this is very similar to option 1. The difference is whether you want all of your documents in one place or if it’s more convenient to have quick access to the ones you’re most likely to use.

As you’re going through your paperwork, let’s make this even easier for the future.

  1. Know where your will is – It is often kept on file with your lawyer, but you should also have a copy
  2. Make a calendar note for when your mortgage term renews
  3. Review when your life insurance payments are due and if you have any renewal dates. Book a quick call with us if we can help you here.
  4. Review your Health and Dental Plan booklet and be sure you understand your long-term disability benefits
  5. Sign up for CRA’s “My Account”. This site makes accessing documents and benefit information (such as GST, Child Benefits, etc.) much easier.
  6. Make a calendar note for the renewal dates of your home and auto insurance policies
  7. Review your loan statements and interest rate details
  8. Review your investment statements and note your investment choices – ex. Mutual fund, GIC, RRSP, etc.

Now that you have your paperwork organized, you’ll have easy access to your documents when you need them, get reminders on renewals, and you may have found a few ways to save money during your interest and investment reviews!

Once you’ve got all these important documents organized, you’ll be ready for your next step in financial awesomeness! Is your budget the next task on your adulting checklist? Read our blog on the 123’s of Getting Your Finances in Order.

I’m Scared Of My Accountant

How to fire your accountant

This article was written by Jen at Dollar Divas and offered to us to use. Be sure to visit her page!

One of my favourite “ah ha” moments at Dollar Divas came a few years ago during a discussion group. We had been chatting about hiring the right professionals and how to find them. When a woman who had been pretty quiet all evening finally joined the conversation.  

“I dread going to my accountant every year,” she said.  

Saira and I looked at each other and said simply, “Then get a new accountant.”

Slowly the realization sunk in that she could fire her accountant and move her business to a different account. It was like a huge weight was being lifted off her shoulders. This Diva felt loyal to someone she hated simply because she had used him for many years. 

This is not an uncommon issue. 

Many women stick with professionals who are the wrong fit simply because they don’t want to rock the boat—and it needs to stop. 

Here are some tips to help you fire your accountant (or other professional) without feeling the guilt.  

  • Speak up: If your professional is not serving you to your satisfaction, you are not required to continue accepting poor service. Speak up! Most professionals will continue with the status quo unless you voice your concerns. A good professional will change their actions when their clients voice an issue. If you have already taken this step and nothing has changed, then it is probably time to start shopping elsewhere.
  • I like me best: Something I witnessed over and over again is a woman staying in a professional relationship that was not serving her simply because she was afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. Many women have told me that ending a professional relationship is like parting ways with a boyfriend. If this is you, something to keep in mind is, “I like me best.” While putting others above yourself is noble, it is not always in your best interests and there are better ways in which to do this. If you have already tried to talk to your professional and nothing has changed then it’s time to find someone new who can serve you better.
  • Have someone else do it: Ending a long-term relationship with a professional can be difficult for some people. The good news is, a lot of times, you don’t actually have to have that super uncomfortable conversation. Once you have found a new person to work with, they can usually have that conversation for you. In the case of a financial advisor, it is as easy as having them request a transfer from your old institution. No ugly confrontation required. If you get a bitter and angry phone call or email, that will confirm that you have made the right choice by changing.

I can’t speak for all women, but a lot of the women I know are wired to be people pleasers.

While this may serve them well in their personal lives, it is not necessarily conducive to healthy professional relationships. 

Personally speaking, this quality has landed me in more than one uncomfortable situation. Where I was not being served well, but I was too afraid to make a change thanks to some bizarre sense of loyalty. Learning that I can make a change has not only been liberating, it has been lucrative. 

At the end of the day, you need to look out for you, and if you’re not happy, then something has to change. 

The 123’s of Getting Your Finances in Order

how to get your finances in order

Do you feel like you have your finances in order or are you winging it? Talking about finances can be really difficult because the conversations are so emotionally charged. It’s easy to have fears, insecurities, and frustrations tied into our finances. We understand that because we’ve been there too. Rather than getting trapped in that cycle, we’ll walk you through how to get your finances in order.

Step 1: Make a Budget

Have you ever put a puzzle together without having the end picture in sight? Probably not. You know that’d make the task much more difficult than it needs to be. 

The same goes for your budget. Without seeing an accurate picture, it’s hard to understand what you need to do to reach your goal.

How to Start

Grab a piece of paper and write down how much money your household brings in each month at the top of the page. Below that, write the following headings:

  1. household
  2. transportation
  3. food
  4. entertainment
  5. clothing & gifts
  6. others


Then, go through your bank and credit card statements for the last month and pair each expense with a heading, and total them up.

Now you know how much you spend each month AND what you spend the most money on.

Add up all of your expenses. And subtract your income from expenses. That’s how much money you have left over each month.

If you’re spending more than you’re making, you need to go over your expenses and your income to see what changes you can make.

To finish off your budget, decide where you want that extra amount of money to go. Maybe debt repayment, a vacation, or one of the following.

Step 2: Make an Emergency Plan

There are SO many angles to look at this from, so we’re going to cover 3 main angles.

Make an Emergency Fund

This is priority numero uno. Your emergency fund should be at least enough to cover 3 months of expenses. And yes, that’s a big number. But this emergency fund is going to keep your budget on track, avoid stress in a financial crisis, get you through a job loss, and a lot of other 💩 that life can throw at you. 

Our suggestion is that you put a manageable amount of money aside each month, into an account that you don’t have access to via bank card, like a TFSA. 

What if something happened and you couldn’t work for a long period of time though?

Just because you don’t have an income, doesn’t mean the bills stop. Because saving enough to cover you (and maybe your partner) taking a long period of time off of work isn’t realistic for most people, get disability insurance. It replaces a portion of your income if you’re hurt or sick.

There are also insurance plans that would help financially if you couldn’t work because your child was sick.

Get life insurance

It’s not for you, it’s for your loved ones. It’ll help them pay off debt (including the house), afford the expenses of growing kids, and finance the changes in lifestyle they’ll need to make.

When we talk about how to get your finances in order, we also need to consider protecting them.

Make a will

Without a will, your loved ones may have to wait a long time and pay fees to get their inheritance. In order to avoid conflicts and ensure your family is taken care of, sit down with a lawyer and knock this off your task list.


Step 3: Make a Savings Goal

Now that you know what your financial situation looks like and you’ve made sure you’re covered if it ever took a hit, you need to make a savings goal.

Saving looks different for many people – both how you save and what you save for. It could be saving for a long-term expense like retirement, a property, vacation or large annual bills.

Whatever it is, you’ll need to refer to your budget again.

You know how much you have leftover now, so you can decide how much of that you want to put into saving. 

Make sure that you do the math on how long it’ll take to save what you need. Putting $100 aside for a new car each month might sound like a great idea until you realize it’ll take you a year just to save $1,200.

You’ve probably realized that there’s nothing glamorous about getting your finances in order.

It’s not as fancy to whip out a debit card as it is a Black Card nor is it too fun to spend your free time putting this all together. It takes discipline, a firm grasp on what you’re working towards, and boundaries.

But how good would it feel to not be phased by a surprise bill? Or to know you’d be okay if you lost your job?

These things aren’t glamorous but the freedom and security you can afford by following these steps on how to get your finances in order are much more rewarding.

Be sure to share this with your closest friends who want that same freedom!

Take control of your financial future. 

Surviving Coronavirus in Canada

Coronavirus in Canada

Feeling uneasy or maybe a bit scared by what you’re hearing in the news right now? They’re talking about market free falls, a disease that has people quarantined and likely all of your upcoming events have been canceled. People are panicking and bulk buying, and you’re trying to keep your cool while wondering what you can do to survive the Coronavirus in Canada. Knowledge is power, so let’s talk about what you have control over.

The virus is affecting our World way beyond health. 

It’s hitting our communities, lifestyles, and economy drastically. But don’t fret! There are things you can do about it. Right now, it’s important to take care of our communities and make sure that we’re prepared.

How can we support people?

Community is so important in times like these. Sharing resources is the perfect place to start. Whether you have food or coveted toilet paper, sharing is caring. Our local heroes are helping people who don’t have access to their medications and other necessities right now.
Let’s not forget those suffering in silence from their mental health, too. Those with an anxiety disorder that’s being perpetuated and domestic abuse victims who are quarantined in dangerous situations are part of that group.

Reach out to your friends and family. You may not know what they’re struggling with behind closed doors. That human connection and support are so important right now.

Buy local.

You’ll hear us talk about that a lot at Iron & Pearl. Shopping locally can make a big difference, especially right now. These businesses often don’t have online stores or second locations that they can make an income from. It’s a family behind the scenes who relies on the income that their business brings in. Buying local is critical to curbing this financial crisis.

Stock what’s necessary.

At this point, we’ve been instructed to stay home if at all possible. It’s always a good idea to have a couple of weeks’ worth of food on hand in case of an emergency. Surviving the Coronavirus is no different. It’s important to have what your family needs but it’s not necessary to buy stores out of their stock. When we do that, it takes away resources from those who haven’t been able to leave the house – mothers of young children, the elderly, and those fighting on the front lines. Look out for your neighbours.

Keep an eye on your emergency fund.

Your family has told you for years that you need to have an emergency fund. Do you have one? Many people don’t have much of an emergency fund. Either from not seeing the importance of it or because money was tight before any of this happened.

We’re hoping that you see how imperative an emergency fund can be at this point. Check out our blog post on “how to save money without making more” to read more.

Keep an eye on what you’re spending as well. As much as spending would help our economy, spending unnecessary money right now may hurt you later.

Stop looking at your investment statements.

You know they’re not looking good and so do we. Our advice still stands – don’t sell. Have you ever heard the sage advice buy low, sell high? That’s exactly what we should be remembering right now. Unless a professional who knows your specific case has told you to sell now, just hang tight.

“That’s it, we’re done.”

Don’t let yourself get to that point with your finances. There’s no doubt that some people will be hit hard financially by this market free fall. But, there have been measures put in place already. If you’ve been quarantined or laid off, look into EI benefits. They’ve made some big changes to ensure you’ll have at least some income right now.  BC Hydro and the big mortgage lenders are offering for those in a tight financial spot to defer their payments for up to 6 months. Keep in mind, you will still have to honor those payments. But, if you’re genuinely struggling to make ends meet, take hold of this opportunity.

Filling out an insurance application?

It’s going to take longer. If you’ve recently traveled, you will have to be in quarantine for 2 weeks before they can consider your application. Companies have stopped issuing travel insurance and medical tests have been suspended until further notice – making it more difficult to get many types of personal insurance. “Business as usual” may not really be. Insurers have people working from home or locked-down offices so that your questions can be answered, but buying yourself a policy will be more tricky.

Put your phone down.

We’d prefer it if you finished reading this article first 😉 but try not to stay right on top of the news. There are scary videos coming out on social media, headlines that’ll turn your stomach, and helpful Government plans that make you feel nervous about how long this will last.

Keeping yourself up to date may seem helpful, but it can also be anxiety-inducing. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or uneasy about this situation, stay home and put your phone down. At this point, helpful information may actually be harmful to you. Having Coronavirus in Canada is going to be all about preparation and education.

This is a scary time for the World. Building community and leaning on each other might just be the silver lining in all of this.

We won’t be staying quiet in our offices as this goes on! Follow us on Instagram or Facebook for consistent updates on the financial support that Canada is offering and other options available to you.

As always, reach out to us through our contact page and we’ll do our best to help.

Canada's March 18 Covid-19 Economic Response Plan

Why Mom-preneurs Need Life Insurance the Most

why mom-preneurs need life insurance the most

As a busy business owner, do you feel like you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off? Holding client meetings, being a parent taxi in between, meal planning, running the house and being the glue that holds everything together. Who would do all of that if you couldn’t? That’s exactly why mom-preneurs need life insurance the most.

If working from home allows you to chauffeur your kids, run errands, do chores or be a homemaker, your family would be lost if you weren’t there.

Even if you don’t work from home, hired help and put systems in place so that certain things can run smoothly without you there, your family will still be scrambling to do those little things that often get overlooked. Not to mention how much they’d miss you.

Your business may also be an asset.

Having a plan to cover your business expenses until it can be sold would be a tremendous help to your family. Or, maybe your kids are a bit older and one of them would like to run your business. Giving them or your business (if it’s incorporated) a set portion of your life insurance benefit would afford them what they need to transition your company.

For example:

  • Cost of closing your business
  • Covering outstanding debts
  • Capital Gains
  • Ensuring your employees/subcontractors are paid for their work
  • Legal fees
  • Taxes
  • Financial obligations, especially if you personally guaranteed your debts against your home/investments/etc.

Of course, that’s not an exhaustive list – just a starting point. Talk to your Financial Planner/Accountant and Lawyer to determine exactly what you need.

Especially if you’re a sole proprietor, consider your personal taxes as well.

We want to prevent your family from getting any unexpected, large bills. Sitting down with your Insurance Broker or Financial Advisor is the first step in ensuring your personal and business finances are in order if anything does happen.

Mom-preneurs need life insurance the most because they often juggle two important roles – a business and a home.

You have a very important role and play a detrimental part in caring for both your business and your family. Having a life insurance policy and talking about a plan with your partner can ensure that they’ll be taken care of, even if you’re not there.

Remember, you’re in control of your financial future.

It takes time and effort to put plans like this in place, but it’s worth it to know that your family is taken care of.

If you could use weekly reminders about taking a holistic approach to caring for your finances, join our newsletter!

What Is Disability Insurance?

what's disability insurance

There is a type of insurance that’s painfully underrated. I’ve never understood why. It can save your life – or at least your lifestyle. It’s Disability Insurance. What is Disability Insurance? Well, we’re going to cover that in the short video below!

Disability Insurance replaces a portion of your income if you’re too hurt or sick to work.

It gives you the ability to keep paying your bills so you can focus on your recovery. Maybe you’re able to use WorkSafe or Employment Insurance. Just remember, they only pay in certain circumstances and/or for certain periods of time. If you’re self-employed or working a side hustle and not sure what you qualify for, read these 2 blog posts: What If I Get Hurt At My Side Hustle? | Government Benefits for Self-Employed Canadians

EI Insurable Earnings

With a plan like the one we walked through in the video above, Sam was able to fully recover and didn’t have to stress about paying her bills or have increased debt. Having an emergency fund to supplement her Employment Insurance and extending her personal disability insurance waiting period, so that the benefit starts later, made the insurance premium much more affordable.

Disability Insurance is a very flexible product. You can customize when it starts paying you, for how long, and how much.

You can also choose whether you’re covered for accidents, sicknesses or both.

Accident coverage is a simple concept – it will pay you if you can’t work because of an accident. Sickness coverage, on the other hand, is more robust.

Sickness coverage can replace your income from serious illnesses like cancer or other internal pains like muscle wear-and-tear.

Getting both accident and sickness coverage can cover you from *almost all angles.

What Disability Insurance doesn’t cover is medical expenses and long-term care. Those are 2 separate types of insurance.

The benefits of disability insurance shouldn’t be underestimated.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say Sam is 30 years old and makes $50,000 a year as a bookkeeper. The accident was much worse than a concussion and Sam will never be able to work again.

We’re going to make this fair and compare her after-tax income of $39,586.

Assuming Sam works the same job until she’s 65 years old and never gets a raise:

$39,586  X  35 years  =  $1,385,510

If Sam qualified for the CPP Disability benefit (permanently disabled or likely to die from the condition) and received the average $1001.15 per month benefit:

$1001.15  X  12 months  =  $12,013.80    X  35 years  =  $420,483

Let’s minus her CPP benefit from the income she’s missing out on:

$1,385,510 lost wages    $420,483 CPP Benefit = $965,027.00

That means that in the BEST CASE SCENARIO, Sam would lose $965,027.00 in income. And that’s if she never made more than she does right now.

If Sam doesn’t qualify for CPP disability and again, never gets a raise, she’ll lose out on


But Sam still needs to pay for her living expenses and might need to pay for medications or disability support now, too.

That’s why we believe that disability insurance is painfully underrated.

Remember, you are in control of your financial future. Plans like this can play a crucial role in securing your family’s lifestyle.

It takes time and effort to put in plans like this, but it’s worth it to know your family will be taken care of.

*Each policy is different. There are exclusions in all insurance policies.


What If I Get Hurt At My Side Hustle in Canada?

what if I get hurt at my side hustle?

Getting a side hustle is an awesome way to make a bit of extra cash. They can offer a lot of flexibility and, for some people, might even turn into a full-time gig. But what if you get hurt at your side hustle? You might not have all the comforts that you get with your 9-5.

There are all kinds of side hustles you can get! From driving for companies like Uber and Skip the Dishes, to using your handy(wo)man skills on a paid gig or becoming a tutor. What we’re talking about here are independent side jobs that you do on top of your j.o.b. – no boss or employee benefits and you don’t get a T-4.

As an employee, you’re automatically enrolled in WorkSafe BC (WCB) and Employment Insurance (E.I.).

If you’re hurt at your job and can’t work because of it, WCB can help and you’ll still have a paycheck. When you work for yourself, those benefits change.

You’ll still have your WCB coverage, but it’s only in effect while you’re at work as an employee. Once you’re on your own time – whether you’re using that time for a side gig or not – you’re not covered by WorkSafe.

For example, maybe you build decks for a living and your neighbor asks you to build a deck for them. But they want you to do it, not the company you work for. In that case, WCB wouldn’t cover you if you got hurt working at your neighbor’s house.

Employment Insurance (E.I.) on the other hand, might still help you.

As long as you’re an employee for a company, E.I. will still be an option whether you’re hurt on or off the job. They can help if you’re hurt, sick, or unemployed. However, they pay 55% of your income (as declared on your paystubs or T4 earnings) up to a maximum of $573/week and only for 15 weeks. If you decide to quit the company you were working for to do this side gig, E.I. goes away. 

For any side job you get that requires driving – deliveries, picking up supplies, meeting clients – you need to make sure your car is insured for business use. If you work with clients or could be liable in any business situation, you also need Liability Insurance.

Those aren’t the kind of insurance we work with at Iron & Pearl Financial, so we’ll leave you with DO NOT skip looking into this.

As a Canadian who pays into Canada Pension Plan (CPP), their disability program may be a last resort.

If you’re hurt at your side hustle, it’s best to not qualify for this. You must be permanently disabled and likely to die from your conditions.

What’s your Plan B if you get hurt and don’t have coverage?

Maybe you could sell something or ask family for help. Remember to consider how long it’ll take to sell your assets.

To make sure that you’re covered at all times, get disability insurance.

It’s the best way to have the peace of mind that you’re covered all the time.

Curious about how disability insurance works and what your options are? Book a free quick call with us. We’ll answer your questions and point you in the right direction. We’re focused on giving you the tools and education to build financial security in your life.

Remember, you’re in control of your financial future.

It takes time and effort to put in plans like this, but it’s worth it to know your family will be taken care of.

Can I Get Insurance If I Use Marijuana Medicinally?

can i get insurance if i use medical marijuana

Can I get insurance if I use marijuana medicinally? Yes. The biggest concern will be about the condition you’re using it to treat. However, the more you use, the more your insurance may cost.

I thought this was an easy question until a medical marijuana company asked me to look into options for their patients. Legalization made some changes around insurance and medicinal marijuana and the industry is divided.

When you’re filling out an insurance application,  they’ll ask if you use marijuana in any capacity. The first thing the insurance company is trying to figure out is if it’s medical or recreational use.

They’ll be more concerned if it’s for medicinal use because of the underlying factor. But, in specific to the medicinal marijuana that you’re using, you’ll just have to fill out a Drug Questionnaire Form.

They’ll ask how many grams you use, your method of use – smoke, oils, edibles, etc. – and why you chose this method of treatment.

The insurance industry has changed in that regular marijuana users – or in any capacity, really – got smokers rates.

If you’re not familiar, people who get smoker’s rates on their insurance policy generally pay double what everyone else pays. Now, we’ve found a number of companies that may charge you extra for heavy use but won’t call you a smoker. The fact that marijuana users aren’t always getting classified as smokers is a big deal in the industry!

One of the things that haven’t been figured out yet is ‘times’ vs ‘joints’ per week.

When we say ‘times’ per week we’re asking literally, how many times you smoke/spray/etc. When we say ‘joints’ we’re talking about a standard size joint – the size of a cigarette.

It gets confusing because, if you’re not a heavy user or you’re only using a little bit at a time, it’s a hard question to answer.

Because of that, I always tell clients to be upfront with their agents and tell them from the beginning. Then, your agent can look into the companies that know marijuana is a medicine and will accommodate.

Unfortunately, when it comes to getting insurance FOR medicinal marijuana, I don’t have great news.

Medical marijuana can’t be put under the ‘prescription drug’ section of your health plan because it doesn’t have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). I haven’t (yet!) found a health plan that offers coverage specifically for medical marijuana.

I did reach out to MSP to see if they had any plans to help and unfortunately they don’t have any plans to help anytime soon.

It’s not looking great today but we’re hoping to see more and more changes.

Remember, you’re in control of your financial future. It takes time and money to put in plans like this, but it’s worth it to know your family will be taken care of.

What are My Life and Health Insurance Options?

Trying to figure out what your life and health insurance options are? You have so many choices when it comes to insurance, so this question can spark some confusion. But you’re not alone!

It’s not uncommon to sit down with a new client and they tell us they’re not sure what kind of insurance they need. They just know what they want to prevent.

You can get just about anything covered by insurance nowadays. Kylie Minogue even has her tooshie covered for an easy $3M.

Getting your THINGS covered is fairly straight forward but it gets a bit more tricky when we talk about covering your PERSON.

There’s an endless list of situations you’ll want to cover but only 6 types of insurance. 

your insurance options

Life Insurance

Pick your benefit amount (within reason) and this plan will pay a sum of money to your loved ones when you pass away. That includes Mortgage Insurance, Term Life Insurance, Whole Life and Universal Life Insurance.

If you have debt or a growing family, this is a must!

Disability Insurance

It replaces your income if you can’t work while recovering from an accident or illness. Without an income, how would you pay your bills?

48% of Canadians have disability insurance and almost all of those people are covered through employee benefits, not because they bought it themselves. The other 52% only has E.I. to financially help in this situation – and that stops after 15 weeks – that’s a scary statistic!

Critical Illness

Pick your benefit amount and this plan would pay you a sum of money if you survive a critical illness like cancer, heart attack, etc. If you need to make changes around your home because your abilities have changed, this plan is a lifesaver. Use it to replace your income while you take time off work or celebrate the fact that you survived!

Health Insurance

Health Insurance can help or cover the cost of prescription drugs, dentist visits, physiotherapy and more. Getting hurt or sick can be more than losing your income; there are expenses that come with it. This coverage, as with all insurance, must be purchased before you need to use it.

There are a couple of health insurance options if you know you’ll need to use the plan immediately. But, those plans cost more and cover a lot less.

Travel Insurance

Canadians are pretty lucky to have the health coverage that we do. But, once we’re outside the border, we’re on our own! Make sure you’re covered wherever you go with travel insurance.

From surprise dental surgery to changing your flights last minute, travel insurance is super affordable for how much it can save you.

Business Insurance

Your life and health insurance options can be set up so that your small business gets the benefit. Having your business as the beneficiary will allow it to keep operating, even if you can’t. Make sure your business is covered! 

From covering the financial loss of your right-hand-worker who has to take a leave, to offering employee benefits, you have a lot of options!

Remember, YOU’RE in control of your financial future.

It takes time and effort to put plans like this in place but it’s worth it to know that your family is taken care of.

Have some follow-up questions? Book a Quick Call with us! We’re here to help 💪

Government Benefits for Self-Employed Canadians

government benefits for self employed canadians

When you leave the 9-5 world, you leave behind a lot of securities that come with it. One of those securities for self-employed Canadians is Government Benefits. I’m talking about Canada Pension Plan (CPP), WorkSafe BC (WCB), and Employment Insurance (EI). There are several important things to know about what you qualify for if you’re hurt as a small business owner in Canada and we’re going to cover them today.

Being a tricky subject to understand, we broke this blog post down. You can read the "I'm totally new to this" or scroll down for the "I'm looking for specifics".

The "I'm totally new to this" version

This information is current as of December 2019. All policies and Government programs are subject to change, so please click on the links provided to ensure the information you’re receiving is up to date.

When you leave the 9-5 world, you leave behind a lot of securities that come with it. One of those securities is Government Benefits. I’m talking about Canada Pension Plan (CPP), WorkSafe BC (WCB), and Employment Insurance (EI). There are several important things to know about Government Benefits as a self-employed Canadian and we’re going to cover them today.

Assuming that, at some point in your life you’ve worked for a legitimate company in Canada for a length of time, you probably qualify for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability.

You don’t want to qualify for this benefit. Those who qualify are permanently disabled and likely to die from their condition. Plus, the benefit is pretty well equal to half the rent of a 1 bedroom apartment in Vancouver… it’s not enough to live off of.

If you pass away and qualify for CPP, your family can get up to $2,500 for it. These benefits aren’t designed to be enough to help a family get by. They’re meant to take the edge off, but not to solve the problem. Making a proper plan is up to you.

You’re also responsible for paying your full CCP bill yourself. When you’re an employee, your boss would’ve paid for half the bill and taken it off your paycheque. As a self-employed person, you must pay the full amount yourself, up to a max of $5,497.80 a year. For more information on this, please contact your accountant or visit the CPP info page. 

WorkSafe BC (WCB) isn’t automatic when you’re self-employed.

It’s optional for self-employed people but mandatory once you have an employee.

If you qualify, WorkSafe BC would cover 90% of your wages up to a maximum of $1,151.50 per week that you’re on the claim ($1,122.48/week updated Feb 25, 2020).

For the first 10 weeks you’re getting a benefit, the benefit amount will be based on your average income from the last 3 months. If you’ve just had a slow season, it could be a small benefit.

If you’re still on the claim after the 10 weeks, your benefit will change to 90% of what your income was last year. That’ll be based on your last tax return.

The 3rd Government benefit that automatically goes away when you’re a self-employed Canadian is Employee Insurance (EI).

This one is a little bit tricky because you have the option to pay into it but, once you start, you can’t stop. You must pay into it as long as you’re self-employed, even if you make a change to the nature of your self-employment. If you’ve never received a benefit from E.I., you might be able to cancel but under very specific criteria. For self-employed women who are expecting to take maternity leave more than once, this may be a good option.

The benefit is about 55% of your income with a $573 per week maximum benefit ($547 Updated Feb 25, 2020).  If you’re disabled, they will pay you for a maximum of 15 weeks but then you’re on your own.

These benefits will depend on how you’ve structured your company.

If you’ve set it up so that you’re an employee of your company, you’d have the same access to WCB, EI and other employment benefits that your employees have.

Look at what your benefit would be and talk to a professional to see if that’d be enough for you.


At this point, you might be thinking, “With CPP, I’ll only get a benefit if things are really bad. WCB will only cover me if I’m hurt at work. And E.I. pays half my income and only for a short amount of time. What am I supposed to do?”

The answer is self-financing or get disability insurance.

Self-financing is what it sounds. If you have enough income and don’t plan to become disabled for a long period of time, you can save like a squirrel and use that money if something happens.

Disability Insurance is another great option. It’ll cover you whether you’re at work or not and you can customize it as specific as you’d like. You might be surprised by how affordable it is. For more information on that, book a quick call with us.

The bottom line, self-employed people have a lot of flexibility in what kind of coverage they get if they become disabled, but they’re responsible for setting it up themselves.

Remember, plans like this need to be set up BEFORE you become disabled.

Government benefits are not automatic as a self-employed Canadian, so be sure to do your research and talk to a professional.

Remember, you’re in control of your financial future.

It takes time and effort to put in plans like this but it’s worth it to know that your family will be taken care of.

The "I'm looking for specifics" version

This information is current as of December 2019. All policies and Government programs are subject to change, so please click on the links provided to ensure the information you’re receiving is up to date.

When you leave the 9-5 world, you leave behind a lot of securities that come with it. One of those securities is Government Benefits. I’m talking about Canada Pension Plan (CPP), WorkSafe BC (WCB), and Employment Insurance (EI). There are several important things to know about Government Benefits as a self-employed Canadian and we’re going to cover them today.

Assuming that, at some point in your life you’ve worked for a legitimate company in Canada for a length of time, you probably qualify for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability.

You don’t want to qualify for this benefit. Those who qualify are permanently disabled and likely to die from their condition. Plus, the benefit is pretty well equal to half the rent of a 1 bedroom apartment in Vancouver… it’s not enough to live off.

If you pass away and qualify for CPP, your family can receive a maximum $2,500 death benefit. Your partner and children might also get survivor benefits and special education grants as well. These benefits aren’t designed to be enough for a family to get by. They’re meant to help, but not to solve the problem. Making a proper plan is up to you.

You’re also responsible for paying your full CPP bill yourself. At tax season, CPP will bill you for what, in an employee position, your boss would’ve taken off each paycheque. If you make more than $3,500, you must pay into CPP. That bill is 10.2% of your NET income. As an employee, your boss paid for half and you paid for the other half. As a self-employed person, you must pay the full 10.2% on your own, up to a max of $5,497.80. For more information on this, please contact your accountant or visit the CPP Information Page. 

WorkSafe BC (WCB) isn’t automatic when you’re self-employed.

It’s optional for self-employed people but mandatory once you have an employee. Depending on how big you anticipate your company growing and the way you’ve structured your own employment – whether you’re an employee of your company, sole-proprietor, etc. – it might make more sense to get disability insurance for yourself.

If you qualify, WBC would cover 90% of your wages up to a GROSS income of $87,417.00 ($84,800 updated Feb 25. 2020). It works out to a maximum of $1,150.50 per week benefit that you could receive while on the claim ($1,122.48/week updated Feb 25, 2020)

For the first 10 weeks, your benefit amount will depend on the average income you made in the last 3 months. If you’ve just had a slow season, it’ll be reflected in your benefit. If you’re still on the claim after the 10 weeks, the amount will change to 90% of your NET annual income. They’ll base that number off of what income you claimed during tax season last year and you must be able to prove it.

The 3rd Government benefit that automatically goes away when you’re a self-employed Canadian is Employee Insurance (EI).

This one is a little bit tricky because you have the option to pay into it but, once you set it up, you can’t stop. You must keep paying your E.I. premium as long as you’re self-employed, regardless of if you make a change to the nature of your self-employment. If you’ve never received a benefit from it while being self-employed, you might be able to cancel but under very specific criteria. For self-employed women who are expecting to take maternity leave more than once, this may be a good option.

The benefit is 55% of your income to a maximum of $54,200 annual income ($51,700 updated Feb 25, 2020). That works out to be $573 per week maximum benefit ($547 updated Feb 25, 2020). With disability or unemployment claims, they’ll pay you for a maximum of 15 weeks. After that, you will stop receiving a benefit.

Again, these benefits will depend on how you’ve structured your company.

If you set it up so that you’re an employee of your company, you’d have the same access to WCB, EI and other employment benefits that your employees have.

Talk to a professional to see what your maximum benefit would be with each of these programs to determine whether it’d be enough for you.


Here’s what you might be thinking at this point, “With CPP, I’ll only get a benefit if things are really bad. WCB will only cover me if I’m hurt at work. And E.I. is a short-term solution. What am I supposed to do?”

The answer is self-financing or getting disability insurance.

Self-financing is what it sounds. If you have enough income and don’t plan to become disabled for a long period of time, you can save like a squirrel and use that money if something happens.

Disability Insurance is another great option. It’ll cover you whether you’re at work or not and you can customize it as specific as you’d like. You might be surprised by how affordable it is. For more information on that, book a quick call with us.

The bottom line, self-employed people have a lot of flexibility in what kind of coverage they can get if they become disabled, but they’re responsible for setting it up themselves.

Remember, plans like this need to be set up BEFORE you become disabled.

Government benefits are not automatic as a self-employed Canadian, so be sure to do your research and talk to a professional.

Remember, you’re in control of your financial future.

It takes time and effort to put in plans like this but it’s worth it to know that your family will be taken care of.

What is Critical Illness Insurance?

what is criticall illness

It always surprises me how few people know about Critical Illness Insurance. Especially with half of Canadians expected to develop cancer and heart disease claiming 33,600 lives each year in this country. Do you think getting a cheque for $50,000 would help if you were diagnoses with one of these, or other serious illnesses? On that note, we’re going to talk about what critical illness is.

Critical Illness Insurance is a type of insurance policy that will pay you a lump sum of money if you survive a heart attack, stroke, cancer, and other diseases.

It’s meant to help cover the time you’ll have to take off of work, making changes in your home to adapt to your new lifestyle, or even going on vacation to celebrate the fact that you survived!

Many companies offer Critical Illness, but not all plans are created equally. For example, one company might cover 5 types of diseases where another company may cover 50 different diseases. As per usual, you’ll get what you pay for.

One of the most important things you need to know about these plans are the definitions of each condition.

That’s how the insurance company determines when they’ll pay you. For example, where one company may pay a benefit after you’ve survived a stroke, another company may require the stroke to have been life threatening to pay a benefit  And, again, it’ll be different by company.

There’s somewhat of a standard definition for each disease, but you don’t want to overlook it. This is something that your insurance agent will help you with, so make sure you ask the question.

It is, however, standard that you must survive 30 days after the diagnosis (or event in the case of heart attack, etc.) in order to qualify for the benefit. Typically, after a cancer diagnosis you must survive 90 days before qualifying. 

Can you get critical illness if you’ve had cancer or a heart attack before?

Generally speaking, if you’ve had a critical illness before, as long as you’ve made a full recover, you’ll be able to get this coverage. Just not for the illness you’ve already had. Some companies will even take the risk of covering you for that illness anyways, after a set amount of time of you being healthy (and some proof).

It’s generally a simple kind of insurance, but it gets more complicated if you have a medical condition when you apply.

We’ll use diabetes as an example. Greg had diabetes when he applied for critical illness coverage. Years down the road, Greg suffered a heart attack. Because diabetes can cause heart disease, Greg may need to go for extra tests to see whether the diabetes CAUSED the heart attack. If it did, Greg might be denied because his existing medical condition caused it. If the diabetes didn’t cause it, Greg gets his benefit to use how he’d like.

Please don’t let that detour you from looking into this coverage. You always want to be honest with your insurance agent, ask questions, and communicate with them if you do have to make a claim. But you should be aware of how the coverage works.

Can kids get covered?

They sure can! And it’s crazy how cheap it is.

You can get family coverage before you have kids and those kids could be covered for diseases or disorders they could be born with. It’s an awful thing to think of, but we’re all aware of the reality. Keep the coverage on them and they can be covered into their adult life for quite cheap.

Who is coverage like this good for?

It’s perfect for self-employed people who can’t afford getting personal disability coverage but want to have something if they were critically ill.

For families, like mine, who have had a family member suffer from a disease and worry that it’s genetic, this coverage can bring a lot of peace of mind.

It’s also good for stay-at-home parents, homemakers, and caretakers who may not qualify for disability insurance because they don’t make an income.

And it’s for people who have, in some way, experienced the devastating effects of a critical illness and the lack of financial support available to those who are suffering. Once you’ve seen that happen, you know how important it is to have a plan in place.

Do I have to pay tax on the money?

Nope! It’s treated the same way that a life insurance benefit is. It’s not taxable so you get to use all the money.

How much critical insurance should I have?

That’ll depend on a lot. When you sit down with your insurance agent, they’ll do a Needs Analysis. It goes over how much money you make, how much you spend, and what kinds of benefits you’ll already be able to get if something happened to you. From there, they can help you pick an amount that would be right for you. It’ll also depend on your budget – the higher the benefit, the more expensive.

I always suggest getting a little bit more than you think – having been in this situation myself – because there are a lot of surprise expenses. If you were sick, your partner probably wouldn’t be working – so that’s 2 lost incomes. Making changes to your home if your physical ability changes can also be very expensive. Again, the Needs Analysis form will help.

How do I buy Critical Illness Insurance?

Life Insurance agents sell this kind of coverage. That includes us! We’d be happy to answer your questions and help you find the right plan.

Remember, you’re in control of your financial future.

It takes time and effort to put in plans like this but it’s worth it to know that your family will be taken care of.

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What You Need to Know About Life Insurance

Today, we’re going to give you a summary of what you need to know about life insurance. We’re going over a lot of information here, so buckle up!

We’ll talk about:

  • What life insurance is
  • The 3 different kinds
  • Who needs this
  • The cost of insurance
  • How your agent gets paid
  • What happens when you pass away
  • Who can’t get life insurance

Life Insurance is really just a contract. It’s a contract between you and an insurance company saying that, so long as you pay your bill, they’ll give your family a benefit when you pass away. It’s a simple a concept as that!

Of course, there’s more to the contract. But the terms of the contract are for your Insurance Agent to walk you through. Each Insurance Company’s terms will be different.

There are 3 kinds of Life Insurance:

    1. Term Life Insurance
      Think of it like renting a policy. It’s cheap and for a set amount of time, but it’s not worth anything at the end.
    2. Whole Life Insurance
      This policy is more expensive but will cover you for your whole life. It also builds up a cash value that you can withdraw or use as collateral over time.
    3. Universal Life Insurance
      This policy is a combination between a life insurance policy and an investment portfolio. It’s the most expensive option but can be a great option for someone who’s investment savvy.

Insurance isn’t for everyone.

If you have debt, are self-employed, or have someone who relies on you or your income, then it’s definitely something to look into.

If you’re not quite sure or have more questions, book a Quick Call with us and we’ll do our best to answer! Please keep in mind we are only authorized to talk about Canadian Insurance options.

How much does Life Insurance cost?

Honestly, it depends on too many things to give you a straight answer. I’ve seen policies that are $10 a month and others are thousands of dollars a month. It depends on the insurance company you choose, the benefit amount (how much you’d be paid), your health, which of the 3 types of insurance policies you chose, and a laundry list of other factors.

What I’d suggest is, regardless of your budget, sit down with an insurance broker that you trust. Having a policy should never take food off of the table, but it’s better to have a policy that you can afford than nothing at all.

When do I pay my insurance agent?

You don’t! Insurance agents are paid by the insurance company.

We’re paid by commission and bonuses. It doesn’t matter what insurance company, agency or broker that you choose, it’s entirely a back end deal. You will not get a bill for your insurance agent’s time.

When you pass away a process of things will happen.

This process is one of the top things you need to know about life insurance. First, the insurance company will look into the cause of death. As long as you weren’t doing anything suspicious or illegal when you passed, and the reason falls under the contract terms, your family will be paid the death benefit.

It’s as simple as that! However, it’s not as fast as that. Make sure that you always have an emergency fund set up that your family can access to help them financially until the insurance benefit is paid to them.

If you want to make sure the benefit is paid as quick as possible, put your loved ones as the beneficiaries on your insurance policy. If you leave this portion blank, the money will go to your estate. In that case, the benefit will get locked up in probate and not released until that process is finished. And it can be a long process.

Life Insurance benefits are TAX-FREE. Your family will not need to pay tax on the money they receive from your policy.

Who can’t get life insurance?

Honestly, very few people! The industry has really evolved in the past few years. But each company is willing to take on a different amount of risk. For example, one company might not have a problem with your health concern while another sees it as a red flag and refuses to cover you.

That’s why I always suggest sitting down with a broker. We’re able to look at plans from multiple companies and can find one that’s willing to take on whatever risk you might have… the insurance might just cost a bit more.

Remember, you’re in control of your financial future.

It takes time and effort to put in plans like this but it’s worth it to know that your family will be taken care of, even if you’re not there.

This isn’t everything you need to know about life insurance. But now you’re ready to call your agent and look into options. 

We would love to be those people for you.

Curious about what happens when you apply for insurance? Click here to learn more!

what happens when you apply for life insurance

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How to Save Money Without Making More

Half of Canadians live paycheque to paycheque. That’s a staggering statistic. But, with how expensive some of our main cities have become – I’m looking at you, Vancouver and Toronto – it’s not so surprising. So, how does one save money when struggling to make enough as it is? Here are a few ways you can save money without making more.

First, you absolutely need to know how much money you make and how much you spend.

This is non-negotiable. There’s no way around it – I’ve tried 😆 There are many options and apps that can help. I gave myself a month to track everything, which gave me a light at the end of the tunnel for the tedious work of data entry. Track what you make and go through every penny you spend on your debit and credit cards and keep receipts for all cash purchases.

You’re right, it’s a pain to do, but saving your receipts for a few weeks and entering information is worth it for how much this pays off!

I entered everything into a blank excel spreadsheet. Here are the categories I put each expense under:

  • Insurance
  • Food
  • Entertainment
  • Gas/Transportation (including car/bike repairs)
  • Gifts/Clothing
  • Medical expenses
  • Phones/Internet/Cable
  • Membership (Netflix, kids’ programs, Amazon Prime, etc.)
  • Work expenses (tools, dues, uniform, etc.)
  • Debt repayment
  • Savings/Investment contribution

You may have miscellaneous expenses to create categories for. The only way to do this wrong, is to not do it! I can almost guarantee you’ll have an unexpected or emergency expense. Do not toss it thinking it was a fluke. There will always be emergency expenses that need to be accounted for.

Once you know how much you bring in vs. how much you spend, you’ll have an idea of where the problems are.


Save the extra.

Now that you know how much you should have left over each month, you’ll know if there’s any money left to put in a savings account. I’ve been putting $25 a week into a side account (with compounding interest) for a few years now and it’s been a lifesaver.  Learn more here. Sometimes you just need to save in bite-sized chunks when you want to save money without making more.

A few years after starting our own bite-sized savings plan, I came across the “latte factor”. If you’re new to that concept, here’s a quick video.

What resources do you already have?

Many people are already working multiple jobs or have other reasons why it’s hard to make ends meet (let alone save), simply saying “you need to make more or spend less”, doesn’t work.

What resources are at your fingertips that you might not be using? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Credit Card Benefits – credit cards often offer little ways to save you money. Like free travel insurance if you pay with your card, bonus dollars if you spend a certain amount,  cash back, warranty extensions/coverage, etc.
  • Employee Benefits – Do you understand your plan? These plans can cover an a lot of health expenses and might offer other benefits. Some companies also offer investments opportunities – don’t risk missing out because you didn’t want to ask a silly question. Someone in your office (probably HR) is responsible for this plan and can help you understand it.
  • Other Member Benefits – The other week, my phone company paid for me to take a friend to the movies just because I’m their customer. We get discounts at certain stores because of my Partner’s company affiliations. Some of my networking groups give me discounts at stores or free first visits. Look at the groups/organizations/companies that you’re a part of and do a dive into what they offer their members!

What’s the interest rate on your savings account?

If you leave your money in a savings account that promises to grow by 0.5% each year (your interest rate) and you leave it in there for 10 years, you’re losing money – thanks to inflation.

Inflation is 2% on average. So, if you’re savings account is only making 0.5% interest, it’s not keeping up!

You’ll hate this next idea but I’m bringing it up because IT WORKS.

Anytime I’ve been in a tight financial spot, I switch to cash. There’s no more of a determining answer on whether you can get take-out than having $1.00 to use.

I take out cash once a week and make envelopes for each category. I chose to do it every week because it’s easier to not spend money when there’s less at your fingertips.

If you prefer to avoid cash, we suggest replacing the cash system with an app that tracks your purchases and a nightly review.

Have a separate chequing account where you transfer money for your weekly expenses (like taking money out of the bank) into.

There are apps that allow you to manually input your expenses for the day or will connect to your bank account and provide a report. Like virtually checking your envelopes!

Here’s what my envelope system looks like:

Envelope 1: Food $200.00/week
Cat food, cleaning supplies, and other household items are in this budget.

Envelope 2: Entertainment $40.00/week
It’s tempting to leave out when things are really tight, but at some point, you’ll be out for an impromptu coffee or want a 6-pack and you don’t want to be tempted to put it on the credit card!

Envelope 3: Gas $60.00/week

Envelope 4: Clothing and gifts $20.00/week
This one typically sits for a little bit until an expense comes up. It feels really good to be prepared!

Envelope 5: Clothing & Gifts $20.00/week

Then, I make sure there’s enough in the account for auto with-drawls – strata fees, car insurance, etc. – and we strictly live off the cash in these envelopes. Some weeks I’m surprised to find there’s quite a bit of money left over! 

Now, I do it even when things aren’t tough because it makes me spend more consciously so I can strive towards the bigger things I want.

Remember, you’re in control of your spending. It takes time and effort to take control of your financial future and say a temporary no to things you really do want. You’ll get from this what you give to it.

Keep your focus in clear sight and I promise, you can start to save money without making a penny more.

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How to Make 2020 New Year’s Goals Fun

New Year's goals the 20 20's of 2020

Happy New Year!

We’re officially 1 week into an entirely new DECADE! How crazy! If we’re anything alike, you have lofty goals for the new year. And, now that we’re back to reality, accomplishing those new year’s goals might feel overwhelming.

With you (honestly, and us) in mind, Alyx made the 20 20’s of 2020!

This adorable checklist was originally made by Good Food Ambassador, Bri, and we’ve added our own spin.

Last week we sat down to talk about our New Year’s Goals.

The beginning of the year is an exciting time! You’re rested from time off over the holidays (hopefully) and thinking about all the opportunities this year could bring.

With those opportunities comes goals to eat better, organize the house, have a better social life, and so forth. But, once you’re back in the swing of things, it’s hard to put that into action!

Especially when the goal is as vague as “organize the house” …if we’re being honest here.

“Vague goals produce vague results.” – Jack Canfield

Turning goals into a fun checklist is an easy way to specify what you want AND keep you on track!

Scroll down a minute to look at the fun-sheet.

Is there anything on there that you don’t think you could do? If there is, spend a minute thinking about how you could make it work for YOUR life.

We’re starting small here. A family adventure doesn’t have to be a cruise. It should be as simple as trying out a new beach or hike together. Organizing the house is a daunting task, but cleaning out the utensil drawer is definitely more manageable…and worth a check off the list! ✔

Do you have a 20 of 2020 you’d want to add? Let us know in the comments below!

How to make 2020 New Year's goals fun

Download a copy here: Iron and Pearl Financial 20 20’s of 2020

What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

Whether it’s for work or fun, travel insurance often gets brought up when you’re going away. Not sure if you even need to get it? Visit our blog post on that on that first. If you’re sure you need it but are wondering what does travel insurance cover and are confused about the situation, you’re in the right spot! 

Travel Insurance covers you for extra expenses you might have if something bad happens on your trip.  

You’ll have the option to cover everything from cancelling your trip after you’ve paid for non-refundable hotel and airfare, to ending up in the hospital after an accident or catching a serious bug. You can even get coverage if the airline loses your luggage and leaves you with one pair of underwear. 

Now, I make light of it with the one pair of underwear thing, but people’s lives have been ruined over an out of country hospital bill forcing them to declare bankruptcy. 

However, you may already have travel insurance! 

Take a look at your Work Group Benefits plan and see if that offers anything. Your credit card or other member benefits plans that you’re a part of could also be used in this situation. Make sure you take a look at what you’re actually covered for and how much before you leave. 

For example, some credit card companies offer travel insurance, but only if you booked your trip using that credit card. Others will only cover you in certain, extreme situations and all plans have a maximum amount of money they’ll pay 

If you have multiple plans that cover you – for example, coverage through your credit card AND you’ve bought separate travel insurance – the contracts will tell you who the “First Payer is. That’s the Insurance Policy that has to pay you first. You’ll submit your bill/receipt to that company and they’ll pay you based on what the contract says. If they pay the whole thing, your second policy WILL NOT pay you. If the First Payer doesn’t cover your whole bill, THEN you can send the remainder to the next insurance company. You cannot have one bill paid by 2 companies. 

Keep in mind, most plans WILL NOT cover you if you’re intoxicated when you get hurt. 

For Canadians, each province has its own health plan. Just because you’re a Canadian resident does not mean you’ll be as covered in other provinces as you are by your own Province’s health plan. Provincial health care coverage is required for these individual plans, so make sure your account is up to date. Plan accordingly.  

Travel Insurance is there to cover the expenses of getting hurt in another Country or Province. You don’t pay into other Country’s medical systems like you do in Canada through MSP (or equivalent) and taxes, so you have to pay that Country’s full price. And it can be very expensive. 

Ending up in the Hospital or passing away and needing to transport your body home are the most expensive things you’ll want to cover. As I said, you’ll have to pay full price for any hospital and medical attention you require.  

Travel insurance covers a number of things. Here are a few benefits you might want in your plan: 

  • Emergency MedicalEvents or sickness that could land you in the hospital, Doctor’s office, etc. 
  • Trip cancellation and InterruptionGetting your money back if you have to unexpectedly cancel your trip or having to book a hotel if your flight is delayed.
  • Baggage loss, damage, or delayTo keep clothes on your back if your baggage is delayed or to replace items if it gets lost
  • Travel accident including death and dismembermentpassing away in another country is VERY expensive. Your body needs to be processed and specially transported back home. 

Travel Insurance is certainly worth it, but it’s not mandatory. The chances of having to use your insurance is quite low. The risk you’re taking on, however, is MUCH greater than if you were at home and put in the same situation. 

There are 2 MOST IMPORTANT things you need to know about Travel Insurance: 

  1. How to claim: know before you go. Your policy might require you get certain Doctor’s notes or Xray photos that will be hard to get once you’re back home. 
  2. You’ll probably have to pay the cost up front. Most often, you’ll have to pay the Dentist/Doctor/ Pharmacy bill before you leave their office. You’ll submit the receipt to the Travel Insurance company when you’re back home to be reimbursed. Make sure you have some emergency cash! 


Looking for a travel insurance? Give us a call!

Happy Travels 💃🕺 

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Looking for a guide to figuring out how much your next adventure will cost?

WITH THIS SIMPLE TOOL, I’ll walk you through creating a budget and other important things to remember when planning a trip.

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Should I buy travel insurance if I’m just visiting family?

We’d been planning this trip since we first started dating. My husband is a Can-Aussie (that’s half Canadian, half Australian) and hadn’t been back to Australia since his early teens. So, at this point, it’d been about 10 years. He was pretty disappointed his Canadian wife didn’t know what a ‘real wave’ was 😆 

We found a crazy deal on plane tickets and, after 6 years together, finally booked our trip Down Under! We were incredibly excited. The bikinis were bought, bags were packed, pets were taken care of. But we hadn’t bought Travel Insurance. 

Our trip wasn’t going to be dangerous in any way – the main goal was visiting Family and jumping in waves. 

Australia is home to him and everything would be in English anyways. Plus, the trip was really expensive to bookWe didn’t want to waste our money on insurance because, honestly, it’s not like we’d have to use it. It’s not a dangerous country and we’d be with Family the entire time. 

But I was terrified of the snakes and spiders (the only ones we ended up seeing were in a zoo 😎) so I bought it just in case. 

5 days into our 3 week long trip, we were staying in this dingy hotel downtown and I wake up in the middle of the night feeling like I’m in a horror movie. My face felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to it. I’d never had this before but was bawling from the sharp, throbbing pain in my jaw. 

First thing the next morning, we went to a walk-in clinic. They weren’t sure what was wrong ($150.00). So, thesent me to a Dentist ($300.00). This pain in my jaw would not go away. 

After plenty of xrays and questionnaires, the Dentist tells me my wisdom tooth was badly infected from a weird kind of cavity. My only option was to have it pulled on the spot ($215.00) and continue the trip on antibiotics ($80.00). 

She had me in and out of that chair in 5 minutes – seriously, this Dentist was incredible. 

Our emergency Dental coverage was $500 this cost $515. 

The emergency medical part of our plan covered the walk-in-clinic and the prescription drugs. 

This $20 travel insurance plan saved me a $730.00 bill from a surprise wisdom tooth infection. 

From the Dentist, we left on our 6hour journey to visit more Family.

Now, wherever I’m going, I will buy travel insurance.

I really hope you do too. 

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With THIS SIMPLE TOOL, I’ll walk you through creating a budget and other important things to remember when planning a trip.

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Do I Need Travel Insurance?

Holy Toledo, traveling is expensive!! The planes, hotels, food, entertainment… it adds up so fast. We both know you worked REALLY hard to go on this vacation. So it can be super temping to try and save a few bucks however you can – even on a $20 travel insurance bill. That could be the cost for an entire experience! Do you really need to buy travel insurance? 

Well, that depends! I’m a huge advocate of buying it after that time I almost didn’t. But you don’t want to buy it if you don’t NEED to. 

Surprise! You may already have travel insurance! 

Take a look at your Work Group Benefits plan and see if that offers anything. Your credit card or other member benefits plans could also be helpful. Just take a look at what it actually covers you for before you leave; they likely won’t cover you in countries currently on the Canadian travel advisory list and there may be other limitations that surprise you. Learn more in our article on What to Know Before Buying Travel Insurance.

No one wants to be pressured into buying something. So, rather than telling you why I think it’s important, ask yourself these questions: 

  1. How safe is the Country you’re going to? Check out the BC Gov Travel Advisory. Keep in mind, many travel insurance plans exclude certain countries and have other limitations.
  2. What’s your plan if you get sick while you’re there? Plan for anything from a cold to critical illnesses (heart attack, picking up a disease, etc.)
  3. If you break your leg, can your trip continue?
  4. What if your body decides now is the time to tell you you have a health concern? It happened to me!
  5. If you were in a car accident and ended up in the hospital, could you afford the bill?
  6. If you die while you’re there, your body will need to be processed and transported back. That costs thousands of dollars even for neighboring countries. Could your family afford that? 
  7. What’s your plan if you get sick and the airline won’t let you on the plane until you’re healthy? 

Now, of course, none of this is going to happen to you 😉 

But, if you’re concerned that it could, go ahead and get travel insurance. You can’t get it once you need it!  

If you’re under 60, it’s quite affordable. You’ll be offered a lot of options from coverage for the concerns above (Emergency Medical Coverage) to trip cancellation insurance, baggage insurance, and many more. 

Looking for travel insurance? Give us a call!

Happy Travels 💃🕺 

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What to Know Before Buying Travel Insurance

So, your Wanderlust got the better of you and you’re off on a new adventure! But adventure has a chance to go sideways, and that’s what you’re here to prepare for. It’s not super complicated, but there are a few things to know before buying travel insurance.

First, how often do you travel?

You’ll get to pick if you want to buy travel insurance for the one trip or coverage for the whole year. Buying by the year costs a bit more up front but if you’re going away a couple times in a year, you can save a lot!

When it comes to buying travel insurance, there are a number of things you may want to insure. The most important being accidents and emergencies (including death).

Driving back through the boarder with a broken leg after a day of shopping is one thing, but if you passed away unexpectedly, your body needs to be properly processed through the boarder – a surprisingly expensive event!

For short trips, what would happen if you ended up in the hospital from a serious accident?

For longer trips, add getting hurt or sick and needing to see a doctor before you can fly home to your list of concerns. There are plenty of other emergencies that could land you with a Doctor’s bill! (link to my travel story)

Less serious things to think of are trip cancellation insurance if you have to cancel unexpectedly, baggage insurance in case yours gets lost (to help buy fresh clothes/toiletries/etc.), and rental car protection.

Keep in mind, there are certain countries that Insurance companies will not cover you in. Specifically, countries with civil unrest or on the Canadian Government’s Travel Advisory.

There are exclusions to almost all Travel Insurance policies. You won’t be covered if you are intoxicated by liquor or drugs, skydiving, professional racing and other sports.

Traveling with medical conditions?

Make sure you disclose it to your insurance agent. There are companies that will cover you EVEN IF you have a health concern. Make sure that you look at what you policy’s “Stability Period” is. That’s the amount of time your condition needs to be stable for, before you can apply for insurance. It’s typically a 90-180 day period BEFORE YOU APPLY. This includes ANY changes to medication. If in doubt, ask to fill out a health declaration and get written approval from the insurer – your Insurance Broker can help with this.

 Whether the company looks at your medical history when you apply for the coverage or when you make a claim, they will find out if you have an existing condition. Honesty is the best way to make sure you receive the benefit if you need it.

Here’s where you can buy travel insurance:

  • An Insurance Agent/Broker: Some may sell travel policies.
  • Travel Agency: These professionals are not licensed in insurance but can still sell travel insurance.
  • Online: It can be much more difficult to make sure you get the right travel plan this way.

There are 2 IMPORTANT things you need to know about Travel Insurance:

  1. How to claim: Know before you go. Your policy might require you get certain Doctor’s notes or Xray photos that you won’t be able to get once you’re back home.
  2. You’ll likely have to pay the cost up front. Most often, you’ll have to pay the Dentist/Doctor/ Pharmacy bill before you leave their office. You’ll submit the receipt to the Travel Insurance company when you’re back home to be reimbursed. Make sure you have some emergency cash!

Whenever possible, call the Insurance Company’s Emergency number for assistance. This can help with choosing a hospital, accessing translation, and getting help with or arranging bill payment.

There can always be unexpected situations that we didn’t cover here. The best way to make sure you get the help you need, is to know what your contract says!

And that’s what to know before buying travel insurance! Hopefully you don’t have to use it, but it’s important to have just in case.

Happy Travels! 💃🕺

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When Should You Get Life Insurance?

when should you get life insurance

Have you ever had a genuine question for a sales person but didn’t ask to avoid the sales pitch? That’s what we’re addressing here. “When should you get life insurance” is a REALLY good question. One that more of us should ask.

I don’t believe that everyone needs life insurance. I DO believe that MOST people need it. Why? Dying is really expensive!

There are so many angles you can look at it from, but asking yourself these 4 questions is a great start to finding your answer. Ultimately, you should get life insurance if your passing means the ones you love would lose more than You.

After asking yourself the 4 questions to whether you should get life insurance, there’s a good chance you know you need it.

It’s pretty rare to be working and have responsibilities and NOT need Life Insurance – unless you have access to a lot of cash.

Life Insurance isn’t that expensive. Like everything else, you get what you pay for! If you want basic coverage in the rare chance you have to use it, you may be pleasantly surprised.

So, Here are the 4 questions to ask yourself:

  1. Who depends on me and what will they need?
  2. How much debt do I have and who’s going to pay it?
  3. Do I know what my end-of-life tax bill will be? A Financial Planner can help with that.
  4. How much will a funeral and other misc. expenses cost?

We’ve all heard the horror stories of people who weren’t prepared to pass. 

It’s an incredibly difficult time for the family and friends who are left behind.

From the time they’ll need to take off of work, to going through your belongings, planning a funeral, and a lot of other transitions. Make sure that you have a Will and finances in place to make it easier on them. 

A Will gives direction, prevents some awkward conversations, and can give your loved ones a bit of peace of mind in their devastation.

Insurance can help finance the transitions they’ll go through. From covering expenses while they grieve, prevent financial stress in the future, funeral expenses, end of life taxes, and a lot more.

Your Will and plan is your final love letter ❤

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Common Mistakes to Avoid When Making a Claim

I’ve had to file a few Insurance and Government Benefit claims in the last few years. There are a number of common mistakes to avoid when making a claim!

I’ve been through this process 8+ times in the last 4 years (it was a chaotic season 😆) and have learned many lessons. I made a few mistakes that you can learn from when claiming benefits from a personally-owned policy, work group plan, and Government Programs like WCB/ICBC/E.I. It’s a big part of WHY I chose to work in this field. 

Making a claim – using your insurance policy or Government program – involves A LOT of paperwork and there’s room for error.

There are a lot of common mistakes to avoid when making a claim. Here are some tips that may help!

First, don’t wait to say you’re hurt!

Injuries can take a few days to develop. Document what happened either by going to the Doctor or filling out an incident report. I had an issue when I didn’t think a work accident was a big deal until a few days later. By that time, I couldn’t prove it happened at work. It’s especially important with a muscle injury which can be considered wear and tear of your body.

Next, keep a paper trail.

This is important! Carriers cannot and will not take your word that there was an accident or that you’re sick. You MUST document it properly. This could be an incident report at work, going to your Doctor, walk-in clinic, or emergency room. Some companies may accept a report from a professional such as a massage therapist, chiropodist or chiropractor.

Continue to keep a paper trail of your injury. Some people keep a journal of their pain, appointments, phone calls, etc. We found it really helpful when my husband was thrown from a ladder and we had a hard time getting coverage for the tissue damage he suffered. Journaling isn’t required, but it can save you some big headaches. Again, the companies will not take your word for it, so you need to continue to follow up with your Doctor, massage therapist, chiropractor, or other licensed professional – Carriers will accept documentation from specific professionals, so check first.

Even while my husband was working after that ladder fall, he went to go to the Doctor every 2 weeks to get proper documentation on his pain because it didn’t feel right. It was his saving grace when, what we thought to be an easy-to-prove injury, was still denied. If he’d stopped going to the Doctor (even while his claims papers were being processed), we couldn’t have proved the extent of his injury to have the decision appealed. One more time for the people in the back: Claims Adjusters will not accept your word for it!

Specific to Disability insurance: You will not be covered for your full wage so make sure you have enough insurance AND an emergency fund!

Canada has an All Sources Maximum. That’s the total amount of money you can get from disability insurance, Government Benefits, and any other source COMBINED. Its 85% of your NET income. For example, if you’re getting a disability benefit from ICBC and you have accident insurance, together they can pay you a maximum of 85% of your income (after-tax).

You’re still out 15% of your income. Think about the extra expenses you’ll have because of your injury too – extra take-out, child-care, your partner taking time off work to help you, etc. We all know someone who’s been on disability – what were they worried about? This is why Emergency Funds are so important.

The 3rd mistake to avoid when making a claim is not asking for direction from the claim’s adjuster.

Adjusters have a lot of cases on the go. To make YOUR life easier, ask how long it’ll take when you’re waiting on an answer from them. They’ll probably be able to tell you it’ll be at least a few days/2 weeks/etc.
The process will be smoother if you’re on the same page.

I’ve also had adjusters that wouldn’t return my calls.
One time, I was almost cut off my benefit because my contact person wasn’t responding and the company thought they hadn’t received an update from me in weeks. That’s not a slam against adjusters – they have an incredible amount of work on their plates.

My rule of thumb is, if I can’t get a hold of them in over 2 weeks (not including how long they had told me I’d be waiting), I call in and ask to be transferred to a new adjuster. 

The last mistake I made was not knowing the contract.

You need to know your contract! Many points are standard through insurance contracts and Government disability benefit programs. Each source will have specific requirements when you make a claim. For example, when we went to Australia, I got traveler’s insurance. Being a realist (and having made this mistake already), I read the contract first. AND I’M GLAD I DID! I had a very painful, infected wisdom tooth 6 days into our 21-day trip and had to go to the dentist. I knew the contract and that I’d need a note from my dentist, including pictures, proving it was unexpected, emergency dental surgery. It would’ve been hard to get when I made the claim a month later! The tooth was pulled on the spot and getting reimbursed for my expenses was easy.

Contracts can be hard to understand. It’s why I’m such an advocate of having an Insurance Agent. Whether it’s an agent or a broker, having someone that you can call, rather than a 1-800 number, when you are in situations like this will make all the difference.

Remember, this is in no way legal advice or counsel and is based on my experience in these situations. The information is of my opinion and experience and does not reflect the industry as a whole. Please click on the links provided and talk to your Insurance Adviser with any specific questions.

Being injured can be a stressful time. I hope that this article will help you avoid some of the common mistakes that I made while going through the claims process!

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Being Grateful Is Good for Your Health

Mindset has become a HUGE topic of discussion this year. It’s usually around productivity and being happier, but there’s another other side you need to know about! Mindset, specifically having a grateful mindset, is good for your health!

Your mindset affects your body’s biochemistry, which affects your health. I’m sure you’ve heard of the studies proving stress can lead to heart disease!

Gratitude can affect your health,both physical and mental, in astounding ways! Many studies strongly suggest that being grateful is good for your health – like lowering anxiety, recovering from depression, and getting a better sleep. Which, bonus: boosts your immune system! Some studies even prove that practicing gratefulness can change your physical body, to help you recover from illnesses! It’s pretty interesting stuff,

As a matter of fact, a study done in 2007 by Shipon, R. W. looked at the perspectives and blood pressure of inner-city African-American hypertension patients. The patients counted their blessings once a week and the study’s results showed a significant decrease in their systolic blood pressure – by 10%!

“Something as simple as writing down three things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days in a row significantly increases your level of optimism, and it holds for the next six months. The research is amazing,” Shawn Achor – Harvard researcher and author.

Stress, especially if it’s often or chronic, is proven to have serious harmful effects on your body, including heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and depression. I won’t go into that because, quite honestly, the research is terrifying.

Many researchers, including Brené Brown, argue that ‘feeling’ grateful isn’t enough. You need to practice gratefulness. It can be done through meditation, prayer, journaling, and many other practices. For more information, see the links below.

When we truly feel grateful, and even when we practice acts of kindness, our brain gets flooded with dopamine – that’s the happy chemical. Our brains are rewarding us! Dopamine is one of the chemicals that helps those suffering with depression and anxiety find relief, or beat their illness altogether – it’s a powerful chemical. Click here to read more.

On the same note, a 2003 study called Counting Blessings vs. Burdens by University Professors Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough, had sick patients keep a gratitude journal. By the end, 16% of patients had less symptoms and 10% of them had less pain. The patients were more willing to exercise and much more motivated in their recovery. “The practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life,” said Emmons.

More and more evidence is being discovered every day on the link between gratitude and your health.

Do you think 15 minutes a day of journaling, meditating, praying, or otherwise practicing gratitude would be worth it for your health?

I’ll leave you with this quote:
When you actively practice gratitude, where you concentrate on not just thinking about it but write things down, you go through the day looking for it.” – Oprah while interviewing Brené Brown.

Related Links and Citations:

Did you find this valuable? Sign up for my weekly newsletter all about health – from body to money. Think of it like ‘Holistic Insurance’.

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What Happens When You Apply for Life Insurance?

Meet your Advisor!

The Insurance process can seem intimidating when you’re not sure what to expect. From questions about your finances to very personal health questions and tests. What happens when you apply for Life Insurance?

It can be overwhelming to start the process if you don’t know how it works!

Here, we know that Education is Power.

This short cartoon will walk you through what happens when you apply for life insurance.

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What happens when you apply for life insurance?

Depending on a number of factors, getting an insurance plan can be almost instant or take a few months. There isn’t much you can do to effect the timeline – it’ll depend on the Insurance Company you apply with, the type of insurance plan you get (or more accurately, how big of a plan you get), and your medical history, as well as a number of other factors.

Getting Insurance is meant to be a simple process but, when dealing with anything health related, there can always be complications. So, let’s walk through the steps of how the situation will ideally pan out. Remember, it may not work out exactly like this, but this is the typical process:

1. Meet your Advisor

In the first meeting with your Advisor, they’ll ask you about your goals, finances and figure out what you need.

2. Advisor finds options for you

Your Advisor will take the information you gave them and go to the drawing board. If you’re working with a Broker (like myself), they’ll be looking different plans from multiple companies. They may have a plan in mind already and be able to start the process in the same meeting, but they’ll likely have to come back for a second appointment.

3. Pick the Plan

Your agent will show you the plans they have in mind (they should be giving you a couple of options) and help you pick a plan that works just right for you.

4. Apply

Then, you’ll apply! You’ll be asked questions abut your health, habits, job and income. Be honest with your Advisor! The questions will be very personal about your current and past health, (likely) as well as the health of your close family members. Your job and income will determine how much you can have coverage for – this is by law and not necessarily dependent on the Insurance Company.

5. Medical

Whether it’s life or disability insurance, you’ll likely have to go through a medical. How that works will depend on many factors including the Insurance Company you’re applying with, health history, habits, etc. It can range from a phone interview to blood and urine samples or even special scans and tests. The Company needs to determine what they’re willing to cover you for with all the ‘information on the table’ so to speak.

6. Pay your First Bill

Once you’re approved, you’ll have to pay your first bill (or premium) to start the coverage. You might give them a credit card to charge when you first apply or wait until they’ve accepted your application to pay – again, this is determined by a number of factors including the Insurance Company that you’re applying with and personal preference.

And that’s all there is to it! Your agent should walk you through the process and help with any hiccups along the way, making the process easier for you.

Insurance is an incredibly important step towards financial independence and preparing for the emergency situations that life can bring. You won’t know how valuable a plan is until you need it. But,  it won’t happen to you, right? These things always seem to happen to other people, so make sure your friends and family sit down with an Insurance Agent or Broker! 

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3 Easy Savings Plan Tips for Beginners

Today, we’re going to talk about savings plans for beginners!

If you struggle to save money, you’re in the right place. These 3 savings plan tips for beginners are easy to use!

I have been using these for 5 years now. It has helped us out of some really tight spots and got us on a 3-week vacation to Australia.

Look at that beach!

It’s worked so well for us, I thought I’d share it with you. Here are 3 Savings Plan tips for beginners!


The reason I’m suggesting so often is because bite sized chunks are a lot more manageable. Let’s use $100 as an example. What I’m suggesting is that, rather than putting aside $100 a month, put aside $25 a week. It’s a small enough amount of money that you likely won’t notice it leaving your account, but still adds up to your ultimate goal. Ideally, you’ll be putting aside a lot more than that, but $100 is a good place to start!

The second tip is: AUTOMATE IT!

Unless you’re a total Type A Superstar, you’re not going to remember to log into your banking app once a week and transfer that money over! Let’s just automate it and get the banking app to do it for you. Have that amount set to go at the same time/same day every single week.

If you know what your goal is – maybe you’re saving for a big trip that you know will cost $5,000, here’s where you’ll figure out exactly how long it’ll take you to save up enough. 

If you’re saving $100 a month, it would take you just shy of 4 years to save up for that trip. Now, set that expectation for yourself and be dedicated to putting the $25 a week aside with your automatic transfers set to go for the next 4 years. Option 2 is taking another look at your budget to see if you could bump up the amount you’re saving, even if it’s just by a bit! But it helps to know how long it’ll take up front, so you don’t get discouraged when it’s not happened as fast as you thought.


The third and final tip is: KEEP IT OFF YOUR CARD.

DO NOT make your savings account accessible by debit (or any other) card. It’s way too easy to see something shiny or put a couple small expenses on that account. But we’ve all been to Costco and know how quickly $20 here and there can add up! So, make it easier on yourself and don’t have easy access to the account.

We’ve found a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) worked best for us.

It doesn’t offer you a card to make deposits or withdrawals by and is not the type of account to use if you’re planning on putting a bit of money in and taking a bit out. It is, however, fantastic for saving for goals or emergencies! You also don’t get taxed on the interest you make by keeping your money in the account – that’s where the Tax-Free part comes into play. In a TFSA, you would earn more interest as compared to a savings account over the long term, and the tax-free nature of the TFSA earnings means you’ll keep more in your pocket. Click here to learn more about a TFSA!

It’s been a great option for us and maybe for you too. Please make sure you sit down with a Financial Planner or representative from your bank to see if a TFSA would be a good option for you and to learn about the rules that come with that type of account.

The information in this post is based off of my personal experience and opinions. It is for general information only, so do contact a professional who is able to look at and advise your specific needs before making any decisions. 

Those are the 3 tips that we’ve been using for our own savings plan! We started about 5 years ago and having an emergency plan/savings fund that wasn’t stressful to contribute to has made a big difference for us. These beginner tips have worked great for us and I really hope they work for you as well!

Save the Planet From Your Office

There has been SO MUCH talk in the last few weeks about climate change and going green. More and more people are becoming conscious of the importance of sustainability and becoming eco-friendly. Some people have become super conscious of it! See 4 years of trash in a mason jar. A lot of businesses owners are learning that going green is even good for business. So, how can a company Go Green?

Maybe you can’t be committed to the point of a mason jar of trash for your office, but what other ways could your company go green? And how could going green benefit companies?

Let’s talk about how going green could be good for your business!

1. Hold video meetings

How does that make a difference? Well, how much do you drive just to meet a client for a half hour to hour long meeting? You can save fossil fuels and time in the same go!

2. Plan your days to drive less

This one ties into the one before AND you’ve probably heard it a thousand times by now. But driving less makes a big difference.

3. Sign online

How much paper and ink would you save if you didn’t have to print every time you needed a client to sign off? There are a lot of apps that can help with this! It’s also really helpful to have your paperwork on your laptop or smart phone if you regularly leave the office.

4. Work from PDFs

Again, there are so many programs that you can use to fill out forms without printing them off. Let’s be honest, how often do you actually need a paper copy? It’s an adjustment, but it’s worth it. Could you imagine how much easier things would be if you didn’t have to fight with your printer, wait to get home to use your printer, or dealing running out of ink?

5. Research your printer

Tying into the last point on printing, research how often you’ll have to replace your printer ink and how much it’ll cost before you buy a printer. I’m sure most of us have ended up in the situation where it costs just a few bucks more to buy a brand new printer that comes with ink than it is to buy new ink for your printer. How ridiculous is that?
Another option is re-using your ink cartridges. I’ve saved a lot of money doing that and the only draw-back is that you have to go to the store twice – once to drop them off and another to pick up. If you don’t print that much, why not just get what you need printed done at a store?

6. Get your computer fixed

How much more common is it to look at a new laptop once yours is over 2 years old and causing problems, than it is to just buy a new one? It might not make sense for your to fix yours and you really do need to buy a new one, but it’s still worth mentioning!

7. Avoid brochures

When you get a brochure from someone, how often do you actually keep it? Most of us look it over and then it either goes straight to the trash or in a junk drawer until you don’t feel bad about trashing it. Chances are, that’s what’s happening to the brochures you’re handing out too – no matter how beautiful they are. The alternative is emailing your brochure as a PDF.

8. Recycle

One cannot make a blog post about going green without mentioning recycling! But it should be one of the lowest items on your list. 91% OF WHAT YOU RECYCLE WILL END UP IN THE LANDFILL. Yes… out of all that effort you put in, only 9% of what you recycle will actually make a difference. Instead of recycling, talk about being conscious with how much waste your office produces.

9. Print on recycled paper

If you HAVE to print, print on recycled paper. It doesn’t cost much more than brand new paper!

10. Take pictures of business cards

I’ve accepted about 5 business cards in the last 6 months. Chances are, if you accept them, they’ll end up in a pile somewhere. Are you really going to search through the pile to find that business card from the graphic designer you had a quick chat with at a networking meeting? Probably not. BUT if you upload a photo of the business card into an app, all you have to do is search “Graphic Designer”. You can even add specific info on that person so you know you’re referring the right type of client. It’s a WIN-WIN-WIN!

11. Watch your gifts

Giving gifts like pens, notebooks, and little gadgets to a client or at an event can be a really nice thought. But, if someone gave you a little notebook with their company name all over it, would you consider it junk? Now, this can go either way. I’ve definitely gone back to the same office to renew my auto-insurance because they give out really nice pens. Most of the time, the other stuff is going straight into the garbage. And that’s not great for the environment or your marketing budget. Maybe it’s worth investing in some better swag and being more choosey with who you give it too!

Have more ideas on going green at the office? Add them in the comments! Let’s make this as interactive and helpful as possible ☕



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What Should I Know About Mortgage Insurance?

This post was made in September 2019 and is specific to Canadian policies and information. It is intended solely for the personal non-commercial use of the user who accepts full responsibility for its use. While I have taken precaution to ensure that the content of this site is both current and accurate, errors can occur.
The information contained in this site is general in nature and should not be considered to be legal, tax, accounting, consulting or any other professional advice. In all cases you should consult with professional advisors familiar with your particular factual situation for advice concerning specific matters before making any decisions.

Let’s go ahead and start this from the very beginning. What IS mortgage insurance?

Mortgage Insurance helps you pay off your mortgage if you pass away. It could also pay your monthly mortgage fee if you’re not able to work for a period of time. It’s an optional coverage that you’d buy either through the bank when you get your mortgage or through an Insurance agent. If you’re familiar, Mortgage Insurance is like Term Insurance.

No one wants to think about it but, if you pass away, who will pay your mortgage?

If you’re single, the bill will probably go to a family member who would, likely, have to cover your mortgage payments until they’re able to sell your home. If you’re married, will your spouse be able to cover the mortgage and all other expenses without your income? Will they need to take time off of work after you pass? In that case, your family would lose both incomes until your spouse is ready to go back to work. Keep in mind, your payments will still be required if you’re not able to bring home a paycheck! 

And that, my friends, is what mortgage insurance covers. 

So, what’s the difference between buying from the bank vs. an insurance advisor?

Insurance from the bank is typically more convenient. It (usually) gets taken out of your account with the mortgage so you don’t have to think of an extra bill payment. Also, you can sign up for it as you’re dealing with the mortgage approval.

While personal insurance doesn’t offer those conveniences, it has plenty of other benefits you need to consider. To start, you’ll know what you’re covered for before you make a claim. When you buy an insurance policy, it goes through Underwriting. That’s a process where a professional looks at your application, medical history, etc. and decides if the company will issue you a policy. You can be approved or denied. Or, you could be approved except for XYZ – meaning you’re covered, UNLESS you pass away from a returning illness, hereditary health conditions, etc.
You want them to do this when you apply to give yourself options before you need to use the insurance.

On the contrary, Mortgage Insurance offered through a bank is, generally speaking, a simple questionnaire approving most people on the spot. However, they’ll wait until you make a claim before they send it to the underwriter. That means you won’t know if there’s an exception to what you’re covered for until it’s too late.

With personal insurance, you own the policy. You keep it even when you move or pay off your mortgage. It’ll pay the Life Insurance Benefit directly to your family (or estate) if you pass away. Your family can use the money to pay off the mortgage or chose to split it between the mortgage and another unforeseen expense.

Life Insurance through the bank will be paid directly to the bank and used to pay off your mortgage.

You’ll typically get comparable rates for an Insurance Policy from the Bank as an Insurance Agent.

There are plenty of other things to know about mortgage insurance (good and bad) so I suggest sitting down with a professional to ask questions before you chose a policy. Always make sure you understand what the contract says. If your situation doesn’t match the criteria and definitions in the contract, you will not be paid out.

These are some good questions to ask:

  • If/When I pass away, who will the money go to?
  • Does the benefit ever change?
  • If I’m too hurt or sick to go to work (make an income) for a period of time, will this plan offer me any benefits?
    • If the answer is yes, ask what the “Definition of Disability” is. You’re essentially asking, “How badly do I have to be hurt before they’ll pay me?”
    • Ask how long you’ll have to be off work before they start to pay you.
  • Who is covered under this plan? If you and your partner buy a home, it may be only the Primary Applicant who’s covered. But what if something happened to the other partner?
  • If I make changes to my mortgage, will this policy be canceled, or will it move with me even if I change lenders?
  • When will they decide if I qualify for the insurance policy I’ve chosen?
    I realize that question sounds redundant but many policies, especially the ones with few questions and approve you right away, aren’t looked at by the Underwriter (the person who decides if you qualify and what the insurance company will cover you for) until you’re asking for the money i.e. making a claim. This is a very important question.

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Why I Want You To Get Disability Insurance

Man with a bicycle

Let’s get right to the point – I want you to get disability insurance. And here’s why.

I was 9 years old when it happened. I remember my Aunt picking us up from school and saying that Dad wasn’t feeling well and we’d go home with her so Mom could take care of him.

It wasn’t until later that night, when we still hadn’t heard anything, that I started to worry. And it was when I was told I couldn’t see him until he felt a bit better that I realized something was really wrong.

Dad was in and out of intensive care for months and it took the Doctors about a year to stabilize him in the hospital. From there, it was another 6 months in a rehabilitation center for stroke victims…Downtown Vancouver. It was almost 2 years before he came home.

My Dad had had a massive stroke at 39 years old.

I’m telling you about it because, right away, we think of how scary it would be to have a parent almost taken away so young. And it was. But what made it really hard was Mom still having to work while she drove over an hour each way, every day from the hospital and take care of us kids.

We had an insurance plan that we thought would cover us, but it didn’t.

Yet, I still believe we all need an insurance plan. But we need better education around it.

Money wouldn’t have made my Dad’s stroke any less severe nor would it have brought him home sooner. But it would’ve made the situation easier to handle. 

It would have helped with the burden of planning childcare, it would’ve given us more resources to run my Dad’s business while he was recovering, and it would have given my Mom time off of work to manage this all.

Our family and friends were incredibly generous in how many ways they helped, but there’s only so much they can do.

This story has no request for sympathy but I hope it’s a reality check to look into your own family emergency plan.

Stats Canada says “Among working-age adults, 28% of those with more severe disabilities were living below Canada’s official poverty line (based on the Market Basket Measure), compared with 14% of those with milder disabilities and 10% of those without disabilities.”

Get Disability Insurance. It’s a flexible product and a lifesaver.

Regardless of your situation, please contact an insurance agent or broker to look over your options. 

You won’t know how badly you need it until it’s too late.

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How to Know if You’re Talking to the Right Insurance Agent

There’s one simple mistake that a lot of us make when we start looking into an insurance policy – we think each insurance agent sells all kinds of insurance. And us agent aren’t great at clearing this up from the beginning. So, here’s a very basic explanation on how it works!

There are 2 categories of insurance: People (Personal) and Things (General).

General Insurance Agents can cover you for much more than just things, but the concept makes it easy to understand. They sell car insurance, house insurance, liability coverage, prepare for expensive emergencies, etc. They’ll help you cover things you can touch, expensive emergency situations (like hotel expenses after a house fire), and situations where you could be liable. There are levels of Insurance licenses the agent will be in depending on how many programs they choose to take. The more programs they take, the more coverage they can offer you.

Personal Insurance Agents can help you protect your ability to make money. If you’re too hurt or sick to work, or if you pass away, you’re not bringing in an income. Taking care of yourself while you’re disabled or paying for funeral expenses will also COST money. Personal Insurance Agents look at what you already qualify for – from Government Benefits to Employee Benefit Plans –  and find an insurance plan that works for you.

Insurance agents want to help. So if you’re ever confused on whether you’re talking to the right ‘type’ of agent, just ask them!

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What Is Insurance For?

Today we’re talking about what Insurance is for.

Insurance covers a loss.

To keep this simple, there are 2 kinds of insurance: one covers people and the other covers things. Today, we’re going to talk about people.

Life Insurance is usually brought up when you buy your first house or start to grow your family. It’s the most common kind of personal insurance. When you pass away, it helps your family cover funeral expenses, end of life taxes, the mortgage, or just the fact that you won’t be bringing in money.

The lesser known personal insurance is Disability Insurance. I’m most passionate about this type because of my own experience(s) not having it. But, again, it helps with the loss of a paycheck. It’s used when you’re too sick or hurt to be able to go to work and pays a percentage of the money you would’ve received from a paycheck. It helps with bills that come up because you’ve been hurt, like medical expenses or child care. Disability Insurance is for covering your missed income because, most likely, your spouse isn’t going to be able to cover both their income and your missing income.

Of course, this isn’t everything you need to think about, but sitting down with a Life Insurance Broker will help with that. They’ll be able to help you make a plan and can’t charge for that time, so it’s FREE!

I hope this helps in some way. If you still have a question, please feel free to reach out!

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Free Self Care

This year I decided to do one thing for myself a day.

I haven’t been good at practicing self-care. I’m more of the don’t want to get a manicure because it means I have to sit still and can’t be productive for an hour, type.

But, I started to notice the quality of my work would go down when I focused more on my task list than myself.

Yes, that does mean this self-care journey of mine started because I wanted to be better at my job 🤦‍♀️ … not what I was hoping for, but it got me started! You might find that a lot in this list is about being mindful. They’re things we do pretty regularly as humans, the big difference is being conscious of what you’re doing and how it makes you feel.

What’s shifted the most for me is my daily mindset. I feel more inspired and honestly, happier. I’m in no way an expert at this, but it’s has made a BIG difference for me. Hopefully this ‘one thing for yourself a day’ thing can help someone else too.

Self-care can get really expensive. We’re told it needs to involve scents, bath bombs, vacations…but it doesn’t have to be. It’s really about slowing down, giving yourself some space, and letting your body rest.

Here are 20 ways I’ve been practicing self-care for FREE:
  1. Take a bath

    Super cliché, right? But it actually works. Don’t own a tub? Take a longer shower! I realize with kids that’s hard to impossible, but if you’re able, I highly suggest it. Just don’t bring your phone in the tub 😉

  2. Sit down for 5 minutes

    …and do absolutely nothing. Don’t check your phone, tell your family you’re busy and don’t judge any thoughts that come to mind. It might sound like meditation, and it kinda is, but before I was comfortable sitting down and meditating, I found this to be really calming and effortless. Plus, 5 minutes is manageable for any schedule. If sitting still sounds too hard, grab a cup of tea to sip! Not convinced? Here’s a study showing that sitting for 20 mins can be just as effective as exercise and meditation.

  1. Do your nails

    Just don’t rush through this. Put on a good movie or podcast and give your nails the time to DRY this time.

  2. Style your hair

    If you have as thick of hair as I do, it could take a while! But it feels so good to do yourself up with no intention of impressing anyone else.

  3. Get spiritual

    You may not be spiritual or religious and that’s totally okay. Personally, this would involve meditation, reflection, and prayer. For you, it could be taking time to think about what makes you feel connected to humanity or makes you feel most like yourself.

  4. Learn something new

    Watch a documentary, Ted Talk, read a book; just don’t do it for work or another chore that you have.

  5. Open your Windows

    This one isn’t so much taking care of yourself. It’s more to help you feel better on a low day. It really does help.

  6. Turn your phone on airplane mode

    For the night or until you feel less demanded by it.

  7. Make good food

    Food that makes you feel energized after. I love greasy food too, but that doesn’t have a place here.

  8. Drink water

    I’m pretty sure your eyes just rolled. But here’s the best part – you’re not going to judge yourself for “not drinking enough water”. Remember, you’re doing it to take care of your body because YOU LOVE YOU, not to hit a quota.

  9. Go for a Walk

    By yourself, go with someone, whatever you need. It’s a great way to get out of your head and boost endorphins!

  10. Do Some Fear Setting

    If you haven’t heard of this one before, look up “Fear Setting” by Tim Ferriss. You would be amazed at what can come out of it.

  11. Pick up a Hobby

    I garden in the summer and knit or sew in the winter. Grandma was on to something! But we want this to be FREE, so how about looking for some scrap material or yarn you already have, picking up Yoga from Youtube videos – your options are endless!

  12. Take a Nap

    I don’t need to convince you. Naps are the best.

  13. Go Through Your Stuff

    Maybe I’m the only weirdo here, but I find it so helpful to go through my things and purge. I find too much stuff, especially when it doesn’t have a home, adds to the stress.

  14. Stretch

    You already know it feels good to get your stretch on!

  15. Read

    An amazing woman in my networking group says she always has 2 books on the go. One she can learn from and the other is a good novel. I’ve adopted that and it’s genius!

  16. Make an Exercise routine

    This one might be the most work but it has the most reward. It’s scientifically proven that exercise will make you feel better and think clearer. I can vouch for that! I always feel better when I’m in a gym routine, even just once a week. Need more convincing? Here’s a write up from the ADAA.

  17. Colour

    Do a search for free adult colouring pages, print one-off, and go to town! Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.

  18. Volunteer

    Sometimes what we need is to get out of our own heads and focus elsewhere. You could join a group that meets at the same time each week or volunteer as a one-off when your community needs it. Some animal shelters look for volunteers to walk their dogs if you don’t want a task too people-y! Doing a nice thing for someone else just makes you feel better.

That’s all 20 of them! I truly hope you’re able to find a helpful nugget on this list. But if nothing else, remember that you’re not alone on this journey. This world is obsessed with busy and it’s okay to say no to that.

If you’re interested in more articles on mindset, check out Being Grateful Is Good for Your Health.

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