Oaken Update – May, 2016

Planting season—it’s time to get busy!

With spring in full swing, now’s the time to get going in the garden. And one of the best things you can do to help your garden along is make it friendly for bees!

Bees are a gardener’s best friend. They make your life a lot easier by pollinating fruits, vegetables and flowers, ensuring they stay healthy and productive. And by providing a welcome habitat in your garden, you’re more likely to keep them out of your house. Bees especially like urban settings, because of short flight paths and the enormous variety of plants for them to enjoy.

Here are three simple steps to take that will bring bees into your backyard and let them do their magic for your garden:

1. Build a bee house

Bees like shelter where they can nest and rest. Thanks to growing awareness of the importance of bees to our ecosystem (especially our food supply), there are more and more garden centres that sell ready-made bee homes for your garden. But if you have the DIY bug, you can also build your own! It’s a fun project that’s super easy, and there are tons of resources online to show you how. We especially like this one from the UK because of its beautiful, creative designs.

2. Feed the little critters

No, that doesn’t mean standing in your garden with bee chow in your hand! It means providing the right plants to fatten them up. As a general rule, native plants attract native bees. They also tend to be more fruitful for bees than exotic varieties that are bred for show, since those plants are often sterile. Choose a variety of plants that will suit different kinds of bees. This handy link lists the best bee plants by province.

3. Make a bee bath

Just like the rest of us, bees—and other helpful citizens of your garden, like butterflies and ladybugs —need water. Birdbaths won’t do, because their depth causes bees to sink. Make a bath that’s shallow by using an ordinary plate loaded with small rocks. Water the plate, and leave the tops of the rocks dry so that bees can use them as a landing pad. Then just put it somewhere low in the garden, and voilà—you’ve got a spa for your tired, hardworking bees.


The convenience (and risk) of joint accounts

Opening a joint bank account makes sense for a lot of people. It’s a very convenient way to manage your finances, by letting you share expenses, pay bills together and avoid probate fees when planning your estate. But it’s important to keep in mind that a joint account can also be subject to abuse.

Joint accounts are generally shared with a family member or a caregiver. For the vast majority of us, that never presents a problem. However in a small number of cases, the joint holder may prove not to be trustworthy, and the consequences of that can be truly damaging. This is particularly the case with seniors, who are the most vulnerable to financial fraud.

Three key points about joint accounts

The best way to protect yourself when establishing a joint account is to understand three basic things:

  • When you give someone access to your account, you’re letting them withdraw money without having to inform you or obtain your consent.
  • In law, a joint account is viewed as an asset of each account holder. That means if the other person is sued, or has an outstanding judgment against them, all the funds in the account could be seized.
  • On your death, a joint account holder can claim all the funds as their own. This could lead to a conflict in the administration of your estate if you wanted those funds distributed to other people.

To avoid any problems with a joint account, you can set up a bank transfer from another account. This ensures that only the amount necessary for things like bill payments are accessible to the other account holder. You can also grant Power of Attorney to the person you want to act on your behalf. With Power of Attorney, the designated person can access your funds but has no claim on them, and is required by law to act in your best interest rather than their own.

As with anything else, awareness is always key to protecting yourself. But in the end, there’s no substitute for good old-fashioned trust!


What to expect from the Canada Pension Plan

With every paycheque, you and your employer contribute a little to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). You’ve probably been doing it for so long now that you don’t even notice. But what kind of benefit will those contributions eventually add up to?

That’s a question many people don’t consider very carefully. But as we recently pointed out in a post on our Oaken Blog, it could be quite a bit less than you expect.

First of all, your benefit varies depending on when you decide to receive it. You can apply for your CPP payment as early as 60, but if you do, you’ll receive a smaller payment every year than if you wait till the more typical 65. On the other hand, you can also delay applying for the CPP until you’re 70, in which case you’ll receive a larger regular payment.

Secondly, the maximum benefit is a lot less than many people expect. In 2016 it’s set at $1,092.50 a month, which can certainly help paying the bills, but won’t provide you with a life of luxury.

And finally, if you’re like most people, you won’t even receive the maximum benefit. The average amount paid out last year was around $550. The reason for that is your benefits are calculated based on the payments you’ve made during almost your entire working life, from aged 18 to 65. If your payments fell short of the maximum—perhaps because you didn’t work when you were studying at university, or you spent several years abroad, or your first few jobs didn’t pay that well—your CPP payment will shrink accordingly.

The bottom line? Make sure you have other sources of income, like RSPs and TFSAs, to tide you through your retirement years.

For a more detailed look at CPP, check out our Oaken Blog post. We’ll also be adding a Part 2 shortly that examines the pros and cons of electing to start receiving CPP benefits once you turn 60, rather than waiting until 65.


Springtime reading hive

Before you become as busy as a bee in your garden, take a few moments for our late-spring reading list. We’ve got items on saving, retiring and making the most of your garden.

 

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

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