Thursday, June 30, 2011

Finances in Your 50s

On past blog posts I wrote about how your 20s and 30s are mostly about debt - gaining debt and trying to control debt.  In your 40s you are transitioning away from gaining debt to paying down debt and hopefully starting to build up assets that will support you in retirement.

In your 50s you should be completing the transition away from debt and focusing on preparing for retirement.   You should be making some extra payments on your mortgage, paying off credit cards completely whenever they are used, and have all vehicle loans at a minimum. 

As the debt decreases, the ability to add more to your retirement fund grows.  Throughout your 50s you will most likely be at the height of your earning potential, which will also allow you to add more of your income to your investment portfolio.  Usually, if you are in a relationship, both people are working, which provides a greater opportunity to increase your retirement fund holdings.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Money Lessons My Kids Taught Me

My family reserves one night a week for just us.  We try not to book anything else so that we can do an activity together, like swimming, playing board games, and sometimes holding a family council.

This past week I was taught an important lesson concerning how to teach my kids. It came in 2 parts.

Part 1:  For our family night my wife and I decided to help teach our children about budgeting and saving money.  We went through a brief discussion about separating their allowance (based on chores done properly) into spending, savings, and long-term savings.  We used lots of examples of things they could save for that would take a few months to do (iPod Touch, horse riding lessons...).  We tried to emphasize that by saving some of the spending money they would achieve their goals more quickly. We then decorated 3 boxes for each child, giving them a place to store their money as they saved it for the 3 different purposes.  I though it went pretty well, until we were starting to clean up and the 3 oldest immediately asked if they could go to 7-11 to buy a slush.  It was a "slap my forehead in frustration" moment.

Friday, June 17, 2011

BoC concerned about debt

The Governor of the Bank of Canada, Marc Carney, made a few comments this week about his concern for Canadians' debt, savings levels and how rising rates will impact Canadian households.   About our debt and savings levels he said:
"Financial vulnerabilities have increased as a result. Canadians are now as indebted (relative to their income) as the Americans and the British. The Bank estimates that the proportion of Canadian households that would be highly vulnerable to an adverse economic shock has risen to its highest level in nine years, despite improving economic conditions and the ongoing low level of interest rates. This partly reflects the fact that the increase in aggregate household debt over the past decade has been driven by households with the highest debt levels.

There are some offsets. Debt is largely fixed rate and household net worth is at an all-time high. However, borrowers should remember that a fixed-rate mortgage will reprice a number of times over the life of the mortgage and, while asset prices can rise and fall, debt endures.

The fact that the “official” personal savings rate in Canada has remained consistently positive is of limited comfort. The personal savings rate has fallen to historically low levels, despite the fact that the baby-boom generation is entering its highest saving years. Adjusting for housing expenditures, Canadian households have now collectively run a net financial deficit for 40 consecutive quarters, in effect, demanding funds from the rest of the economy, rather than providing them, as had been the case through the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kids Learn about $ from Parents

I've written articles about teaching youth about finances before.  I wrote about using games like Monopoly or the Game of Life to teach youth about budgets and incomes.

Rocky Credit Union goes into schools (those that let us in) to teach a class about needs vs. wants, online banking, debit cards, credit cards, and student loans.  In these classes I often ask the students "How do you learn about controlling your money?"   The usual response is from parents, friends or their job.  A few students have responded that they don't ask their parents because they are always in debt and can't teach them anything about handling money, and a few others have said they really haven't learned anything about money from anyone.  This is scary considering most of these students are grade 10 or 11 and half of them already have part time jobs.

There are 2 key things parents do to teach kids about money:  1. Teach by example, and 2. Talk to kids about money.