Online financial planning
No matter what stage of life you find yourself at, you should have a financial plan. And that means you need to be informed about financial planning. Even if you’re a hands-off type who prefers to leave it all to a professional, you still need to know what kinds of questions to ask, and how to evaluate the advice you’re receiving.
So where to start? Of course, the library or financial publications are obviously good places, where you’ll find a mountain of resources to guide you through the basics. Taking an academic course is also a good way for novices to understand the basics of investing. But if you’re like many people, you may find it easiest to simply educate yourself online. There are countless websites that can get you going—in fact, so many that it’s hard to know where to start. To help you through that process, we’ve selected a few that we recommend.
Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
As a branch of the Government of Canada, the Agency offers online courses for everyone from high school kids to adult learners. Their Financial Toolkit is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn the basics of personal finance—from budgets to taxation, investing and planning.
Government of Canada Seniors Forum
The federal government also provides planning and financial information specifically designed for seniors. You can find a link to their page about financial plans here—where you’ll also find links to information about pensions, Old Age Security and more.
Canadian Institute of Financial Planning
This institute provides web-based courses for individuals who want to become licensed financial practitioners in Canada. One of its courses, Retirement Planning Course for Investors, is aimed more at the general public.
For free online financial planning, you might want to look at optimize.ca. It’s a website that lets you devise your own financial plan at no cost (their revenue comes from advertising), and shows you how to minimize your investment expenses. It does not sell investment funds, so this is a site that’s best for people who want to manage their portfolio on their own.
Read your way to better health!
Countless studies have shown what we all know intuitively: good mental and emotional health can translate into good physical health too. But how do you keep mentally fit?
One solution that a lot of experts on aging agree on is reading. Reading gives your brain a real workout: stimulating your memory, engaging your imagination and possibly even improving your sleep. And what’s even better about reading is that its benefits last well beyond your “workout.”
Even better? Read together!
One of the best ways to keep reading a part of your life is to join a book club. And the benefits of a book club go well beyond completing your reading list. As a social activity, joining a book club is hard to beat. It’s a great way to make new friendships or deepen existing ones. It encourages you to share your opinions and view the world with fresh eyes. And it helps you engage with other people, bonding over shared interests. All of those things are great for your mental and emotional health.
How to get started
The hardest part to joining a book club is finding one—but that actually turns out to be very easy. First, ask around your circle of friends. If you’re the type who’s interested in books there’s a good chance some of your friends are as well. They may already be members of a club, or be willing to help you form one.
Next up is libraries. All sorts of book clubs are associated with local libraries, and they often advertise in the branch itself. Look out for notices, or ask at the front desk.
Other social organizations can also be a great starting point. Your religious community, alumni association or fitness club are all sources of like-minded people with common interests. Ask around: you may be surprised at how many people have been waiting for someone to get a club started!
And finally there’s the internet. Search for local clubs, or post a notice on your neighbourhood bulletin board. When you think about it, there’s no real reason why you can’t be part of a book club—and once you join, you’ll be on your way to better mental health (and more fun!) than ever before.
Interest rates—where next?
A plunging loonie. Surging real estate. Collapsing oil prices. It really can be a challenge to figure out what is happening in the Canadian economy these days.
For savers, this is more than just an intellectual problem—it has real consequences for people who hold interest-bearing instruments. For years now, economists have been expecting interest rates to rise, but they just don’t seem to cooperate. Earlier this month, for example, the United States went against expectations and decided not to raise the Federal Reserve’s benchmark rate. (Again. The rate has been at the same level since December 2008.)
We’ve said it before…
All this goes to show that it’s extremely hard to make economic predictions. We’re confident in saying that interest rates will rise again—at some point. (After all, with the Bank of Canada rate at 0.5% there’s almost nowhere to go but up.) But that’s about the only prediction we’re comfortable making.
In the meantime, if you’re a saver you have to be patient. Rates won’t reach the level they did 10 years ago for some time. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for rock-bottom returns on your savings account or GICs.
Oaken offers some of the most competitive rates in the country. We’re known as a leader in the savings market, and we offer a variety of terms to match savers’ needs. Click here to see our rates today. You’ll see that they’re highly competitive, and will give you peace of mind while you wait for higher interest rates to return.
Fall reading—giving your brain a workout
Since we really endorse reading, it only makes sense that we provide you with a little reading list of our own for this month.
- Six reasons from the world of science for why you should read.
- What level of income will you need when you retire? According to this article, we need to rethink some assumptions we’ve been making.
- Current interest-rate predictions from the experts—we included this link in our May Update, so you can compare with what they’re saying now!