Oaken Update – December, 2016

Best of the season, from us to you

As another year comes to a close, it’s time for one of our favourite messages of all: Happy holidays to all our Oaken friends, and here’s to a wonderful 2017!

We’ve enjoyed serving you throughout the year, and we hope that 2017 will bring you peace and prosperity. We’re proud to help you plant for your future, and we look forward to helping you meet your savings goals over the next twelve months.

Of course, we’re still working hard during the holiday season (with time out for the occasional treat, and perhaps a glass of egg nog), which means we’ll be available with our friendly service right until the end of the year, except for the public holidays on December 26, 27 and January 2. In addition, please note that our Oaken stores in Toronto and Calgary will be closing at 1:00pm on December 23 & 30.

And it goes without saying that our website at oaken.com and Oaken Online Banking is available around the clock on every day of the year, so there whenever you need it.

Again, we wish you all the best during this year’s holidays, and here’s to a terrific 2017!


During the holidays especially, stay alert for fake emails

The Better Business Bureau of Canada recently warned online shoppers of fake “spear phishing” emails. These are emails that look legitimate but are in fact scams, aimed at stealing money from you or obtaining your private information. They’ll often come from popular online shopping sites like Amazon, or from delivery sites like FedEx or Canada Post.

The holiday season is a favourite time of year for these kinds of scams, because so many of us are shopping online, sending and receiving things, and we are often generally pressed for time. That makes it easy to slip up, and forget to confirm that an email is legitimate. But here are a few things to look out for:

  • Bad writing — If an email has poor grammar and spelling, or even just poor punctuation, that’s a good sign it’s fishy. Reputable companies do their best to ensure their communications are error-free.
  • Threatening to freeze your account — Scammers love to scare people by telling them that their account information needs to be updated, or the account will be frozen. Don’t fall for it. If a company needs that information, they’ll get in touch, and they certainly won’t threaten you.
  • An odd greeting — If an email says something like “Hello” or “Dear Friend”, or doesn’t even have a greeting, double check as it could well be a scam.
  • A bogus return address — Phishing scams often try to replicate the email address of reputable companies, by putting words like “helpdesk” or “customerservice” in front of the name or initials of those businesses. Check the return address to make sure the email really did originate from the company in question.
  • A suspicious URL — Don’t ever click on URLs in emails that you don’t fully trust, or URLs that lead to a third-party website.

But the simplest way of avoiding a scam is this: whenever you’re in doubt, call the company in question. End of story, end of scam.


A few seasonal tax-related reminders

Here are three short reminders, as the year rapidly draws to a close:

1. Tax-loss selling

If the Grinch delivered you a poor-performing stock this year, now is the time to sell it if you want to claim a capital loss on your 2016 income tax return. You can use this loss to offset capital gains realized from selling any well-performing stocks, going back three years, or going forward indefinitely. Contrary to what many people believe, however, you cannot do tax-loss selling up to the end of the year. For Canadian equities, the last day of selling is December 23. For U.S. equities, the last day of selling is December 27. If you sell after those dates, the loss will only be available for your 2017 return.

2. RESP, TFSA and charitable contributions

The last day for contributing to your RESP or favourite charity in order to get a 2016 tax benefit is Friday, December 30 for both. The same is true of your TFSA contribution if you plan to withdraw then recontribute in the following year, otherwise don’t forget that unused TFSA contribution room from 2016 (or any previous year) will carry over indefinitely into the future.

3. RSP deadlines

As we all know, the deadline for 2016 RSP contributions extends two months beyond the end of December. That means you still have plenty of time to contribute for 2016. But why not plan ahead and beat the rush? Think about making your contribution now, especially if you plan on borrowing to contribute. By sitting down with a financial advisor and determining how much you can afford to put into your RSP, you can get your investment working for you that much earlier.


I’m dreaming of a white… set of teeth!

It certainly is the most wonderful time of year. But the holiday season can also bring stresses, strains and all manner of lifestyle pitfalls. One of the most overlooked of these is our dental health. Most people consume a lot more sugar and alcohol at this time of year than at any other, and that has obvious consequences for our teeth.

To keep your teeth ship-shape over the holidays, remember to follow a few common-sense tips that still won’t get in the way of having a good time.

Red and white wine: There’s a lot of acidity in wine, and it can erode the enamel on your teeth. Avoid swishing the wine around in your mouth, and drink water in between glasses of wine to wash away the acid.

Other alcoholic drinks: Alcoholic drinks often have high sugar content (rum, for example, is made from sugar cane), and dry out your mouth. Lots of sugar plus too little saliva equal harmful bacteria that threaten your dental health. This doesn’t mean you should give up social drinking altogether, but bear in mind that it’s good to give your mouth a break from time to time when drinking alcohol.

Fruit: Everyone knows that fruit is a great alternative to sugary treats at Christmas. But did you know that fruits with high acidity are also a dental threat? It’s true. And citrus fruits, which are a seasonal favourite, are especially acidic. As with wine, wash away the acids after eating fruit by drinking a glass of water—particularly if you are about to brush your teeth—so that you don’t weaken the enamel further.

Sugary treats: Need we say more? It’s impossible to avoid Christmas treats during the holidays, so the best way to protect your teeth is once again to drink water after polishing off those cookies and bars, or chew a piece of sugarless chewing gum in order to stimulate saliva production.

Stress: Another holiday tradition is stress, and it’s one we’ve all experienced. But did you know that it in addition to causing wear and tear on the emotions, it can also be a factor in dental health? Dentists typically see more grinding of teeth and clenching during the holidays, likely brought on by holiday anxiety. This can lead to headaches, jaw pain and even chipping, so remember to take a breather this holiday season—not just for you, but also for your teeth.


Holiday reading roundup

We just said it’s important to relax during the holidays, and we mean it. Here’s a light reading list to help you out…

 

This post is intended for informational purposes only. It is not an inducement to purchase securities and is not to be considered financial advice. Always do your research before making any investment decisions.

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