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4 Key Tips to Ensure Your Bank is Giving You a Deal

4 Key Tips to Ensure Your Bank is Giving You a Deal

People are often quite loyal to their financial institutions – they usually decide to have all of their credit cards and financial products under the same bank. Initially it seems like the most convenient option, but you may not be acquiring the best deal. Shop around and keep the following in mind:

1. Be Mindful of the Hidden Fees

Banks offer a plethora of information online and in physical documentation regarding their fees. Make yourself aware of those fees. Some banks charge $2 to get a statement by mail. There is a dormant fee (when the account has remained inactive for so long). The idea is to find a bank that doesn’t take on so many fees or offers free services.

For example, a free checking account that includes bill payments, email money transfers, debit purchases, etc. may be something to consider. You can access the bank to withdraw money, cash a check that doesn’t include a long hold, etc.

2. Start looking elsewhere

If you notice your bank consistently raises its fees or your fees, you may want to do some shopping around to find a financial institution that offers a lower rate. If you do find a better rate than what your bank is offering you, bring it to them and see if they can match it. Give them an ultimatum, and if they can’t match it, then leave.

Too often, people go to a bank and accept the offers they are presented with without taking the time to really look at them. People need to do some research about their rewards programs, monthly fees, review customer comments, etc. to ensure their getting the best deal.

3. Look at Your Services

Talk to the bank about your current model. What kinds of accounts do you have? What are they offering? Confirm with them whether or not you’re existing accounts are fulfilling your needs and if you’re getting the best deal.

It’s important to look at your statement and investigate if you’re being charged reasonably. If there are unnecessary charges in your account, talk to your bank and outline to them that you’re being left with no choice but to seek another financial institution.

4. Talk to an Advisor about Your Portfolio

Regular updates and feedback is an important factor in building a good foundation with your advisor. Talk to your investment advisor about your portfolio and set how conservative or aggressive you want your investment strategy. As well as locking in risk tolerance, you should also look at the various other factors that come in to play like income and liquidity needs, time horizon, etc.

Welcoming Industry Veteran and contributor to The Globe and Mail, Warren MacKenzie as our new Head of Financial Planning

Welcoming Industry Veteran and contributor to The Globe and Mail, Warren MacKenzie as our new Head of Financial Planning

We are pleased to announce that Warren MacKenzie has joined Optimize Wealth Management as our new Head of Financial Planning.

Warren brings with him over thirty years of experience in the financial services industry. Warren is well known for his advocacy for investor education and his fixation on bringing transparency and objectivity to the financial planning industry. An educator at heart, in 2004, Warren launched Weigh House Investor Services where he provided unbiased investment advice to his clients, which focused on uncovering hidden investment costs while still optimizing their specific financial picture. Warren is the author of The Unbiased Advisor, Zen and The Art of Wealth, and co-author of the New Rules of Retirement and The C.A.R.P. Financial Planning Guide. He is a regular contributor to various media publications such as The Financial Facelift in the Globe and Mail as well as the Money Saver magazine. Warren is a Chartered Accountant, a Chartered Professional Accountant and also holds the Certified Investment Management Analyst Designation (CIMA), and the Chartered Investment Manager Designation (CIM).

Warren has always been passionate about delivering advice rooted in sound investment principles to help clients achieve their specific financial goals and looks forward to continuing this tradition at Optimize. In this role, Warren will continue to work directly with clients and their financial planning needs in addition to being in charge of the overall financial planning direction which Optimize Wealth Management takes.

With Warren’s passion and dedication to always do the right thing for his clients along with the Full Suite of Financial services and solutions that Optimize Wealth Management offers we will continue to ensure everyone succeeds and prospers together. He will make a tremendous role model for our employees and his advice will be invaluable to our current and future clients.

 Please join us in welcoming Warren to the Optimize Wealth Management Team.

5 Strategies to Retain Financial Health

5 Strategies to Retain Financial Health

With the summer now officially over, I thought it would be a good idea to get back to the basics of saving and compile a list of techniques that, when used diligently over time, will reward your wallet and bank account.

Prioritize Spending

The first and most important thing is to determine what you consider necessary. What is most sought after? Do you want to eat out and spend time with friends? Would you rather buy a vehicle or own a home? Whatever is essential to your quality of life, focus on them and cut out any unnecessary purchases that don’t fulfill you.

Work Together on Finances

When it comes to household finances, both parties should be involved in the process. In many cases, one person is left to do it all, totally absolving the other from any responsibility. This can lead to problems when things are not monitored closely, or the person holding that responsibility can feel resentful about having to take care of it all. Collaborating and regularly talking about finances can alleviate stress in a relationship, stabilizing any bad spending habits.

Early Retirement Isn’t Likely

Many people would love to retire early from work which is attainable, but you need to save for a long time and make some sacrifices. Make sure to add 10 or more years into your working life and realize that the more money you add to the savings, the less years you’ll spend using it to live.

Avoid Using Credit for Back-Up Plans

Credit cards and a line of credit should only be used in cases of emergencies. It may help you through when you’ve lost your job and haven’t gotten another, but you’re still going to have to pay that money back.

Slowly Pay Back Your Debt

When tackling your debt, do it steadily. You’re going to be faced with challenges, but make sure the goal is something you can actually reach.

4 Tips to Help You Attain Financial Freedom

4 Tips to Help You Attain Financial Freedom

Did you have any financial gains or losses so far this year? If so, what lessons did you learn from them? It’s important when talking about finances to consider what you gain from an experience and how you can better prepare yourself for when an opportunity arises or a misfortune develops.

Make the Right Big Purchases

Buying the little things to keep you going throughout the day such as a morning coffee or grabbing lunch at your favorite regular is totally fine once it’s factored in to your budget and well within your means. The acquisitions you really need to be wary of are fancy cars and/or expensive houses. While you may think you’re happy with your purchase now, buyer’s remorse may soon set in when you come to realize that your financial freedom felt better than the item you’ve obtained.

Minimize Your Credit Card Usage

If you have credit cards, consider not keeping them in your wallet and leave them at home so you’re not tempted to use them. Yes, credit cards are an important part to your financial health, but think of the interest that they can accumulate. With a good credit score, you can reduce your borrowing costs. Use those cards wisely.

Save for Your Retirement

Everybody wants to save for retirement and see out the rest of their lives comfortably. Don’t think of saving as a chore, but rather a necessary duty that will reward you later on in life. Saving for the future means ensuring yourself solid financial footing.  Financial freedom comes in the form of saving, not buying.

Realize Where You’re at Financially

It’s important you know what you’re paying in taxes, where the money is being spent and why the money is being spent. It’s valuable to know what your net worth is and to talk to someone constructively about your finances. Talking to people about the lessons both of you have learned and what experiences you have had can inspire and offer a perspective on how you could best utilize the money you have, but it can also give you a better understanding on what financial pitfalls you should side step along the way.

4 Ways You Can Use Your Inheritance Money Wisely

4 Ways You Can Use Your Inheritance Money Wisely

Has a loved one recently died and left you with a plethora of money? If so, you may be wondering what you can do with it. It’s amazing how much wealth a person can accumulate in a lifetime, and their family members have no real clue about it. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in that situation, here’s how you can use it wisely:

Pay Down Your Debt

If you have received an inheritance and are saddled down with debt, consider using that money to pay down your debt. You’ll sleep better knowing your financial obligations is being taken care of or is now fully paid off.

Investments

If you’ve had difficulty saving for your retirement, you could use that inheritance for investments – even if you’re dealing with debt. Use the inheritance to make up for lost time, so that when you return to it you can live on something rather than nothing. Of course, any decision you make in regards to your inheritance should take into consideration your income. If it’s unstable or relatively low, and you don’t have an ideal retirement plan, investing the money can help.

Help Others with the Inheritance

Sometimes, it’s better and feels good to help others. This is especially true if your debt and retirement are already in good financial shape. When giving away the inheritance, there are two options.

1/ Give it to family and/or friends

2/ Charity

You can also help your family out as well. Consider paying for your child’s education or putting the money toward a down payment on a home.

If you go with the charity option, you will be eligible for certain tax credits.

Spending It Like You Want

No one needs to tell you how you should spend your inheritance, as it’s your money. As long as you have controllable debt, you have a decent amount of retirement saved up and your income is stable, you can spend your inheritance as you wish. Consider something like a home renovation as a great way to add more value to your property.

2 Key Differences between a Robo-Advisor and a Human Advisor

2 Key Differences between a Robo-Advisor and a Human Advisor

If you’ve contemplated investing at some point, you may have considered what kind of advisor would be the right fit for you – a human advisor or a robo-advisor. Well, to shed some light on the subject, here are some noteworthy differences between the two.

Robo-Advisor

A robo-advisor is a technology company that uses a specialized algorithm to invest your money into various assets that are appropriate for you based on four areas – goals, risk tolerance, timeline and constraints. In order to determine suitability, they will regularly rebalance the money to carry out the target mix of bonds and stocks.

Robo-advisors normally work with exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Human Advisor

In a conventional financial institution, usually you talk to an advisor before they invest your money. They ask you about the risk tolerance, goals, constraints and timelines. They provide you with advice about the investments (asset mix). They’ll invest the money in mutual funds. As time goes on, you and the advisor meet to talk about your life’s needs, the market changes and the most effective way to appropriate your investments.

What Kinds Of Fees Would You Expect?

Human Advisor

An actual financial advisor charge is dependent upon the financial institution and the service received. At the lowest level, you pay for the invested products such as mutual funds, which are charged as a fee known as Management Expense Ratio (MER). These fees can vary – from under two percent (ideal) to more than two percent (terrible). Ask about the fees before you do any kind of investing to ensure you don’t pay more than you have to.

Robo-Advisor

Robo-advisors normally have just two fees – the ETF’s and MER fees (usually range from 0.05 to 0.5 percent) and an additional fee for the robo-advisor’s service. This can be a monthly set fee or a percentage fee – dependent upon your chosen robo-advisor.

Robo-advisor fees tend to be lower than the traditional human advisor. This is especially true if you’re not investing a lot into assets. An advantage in using a robo-advisor over a human one is the minute sum of fees you pay to start the investment process. However, people generally find that building a rapport/level of comfort with their human advisor gives them a level of trust that they wouldn’t otherwise get with a robo-advisor which many feel warrants the fee.