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  

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!

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. 

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

How to Make 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

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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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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