Oaken Update – September, 2016

Four steps for the end of gardening season

Planting for your future—whether financially or horticulturally—requires year-round attention. And for gardeners, that means there’s still work to be done before putting your backyard to bed this fall. Here are four easy-to-do tasks that will make your garden flourish when growing time rolls around again next spring.

1. Remove your old annuals

Remember that annuals are called annuals for a reason: they’re here for a year, and then they disappear. What’s left—the stems, the stalks, the roots—serve no purpose, and can facilitate plant diseases. So best to get rid of them entirely.

2. Prep your soil

Spread some compost on the soil to let those nutrients sink down and enrich your garden. Turn the soil first, to make sure it’s not too compacted, and then spread a light amount all around. Compost is easily found at your local gardening centre.

3. Weed, weed, weed!

Now is the time to get at those pesky weeds, before they have time to develop larger root systems in the winter months. This is also a great form of mild exercise that will get you outdoors at a beautiful time of the year. Your garden will thank you for it in the spring.

4. Mulch it up

Spread mulch over your garden beds, as this helps to keep weeds out and moderates the temperature of the soil, while improving water retention and porosity. You can use anything that covers the ground, but we prefer organic material like grass clippings or chopped leaves, which improve soil structure as they decay over time.

And that’s it! Just a little effort today will go a long way in helping you plant successfully next year.

Real estate, taxes and the future

Recently, the B.C. government instituted a 15% tax on real estate sales to foreigners in the Greater Vancouver Area. This move came in response to decades of rising home prices in Vancouver, which have now reached levels that many consider unsustainable. The benchmark price of a single-family detached home has now risen to over $1 million.

The tax certainly had the effect of cooling the market. In August, home sales in Vancouver dropped by 26% compared to the same month last year, and it’s expected that this lower level of volume will continue for some time. Attention has now turned to Toronto, the other Canadian housing market that has experienced red-hot growth for many years now.

It’s unknown whether Ontario will impose a similar tax for the Greater Toronto Area, but the uncertainty surrounding the issue is a healthy warning for consumers. There’s no guarantee that any asset will increase in value indefinitely, and that applies to real estate as much as it does to stocks or gold. It’s not advisable to rely on past increases in the housing market as a guide for future developments.

That’s important to remember if you’re thinking of buying real estate as an investment instead of for residential purposes, or if you’re planning to borrow money against a future expected increase in the value of your home. While we don’t make market calls here at Oaken, we generally suggest that customers should always remain prudent. Don’t get overly optimistic when planning for the future, because—as the Vancouver real estate example shows—you never know when circumstances may suddenly change.

A new twist on vacationing

Vacations that offer more than just the usual sightseeing have become a big trend in recent years. And as we recently explored in the Oaken Blog, some of the most popular are volunteering vacations—experiences abroad that let you volunteer for a worthwhile cause. This isn’t just something for idealistic students, either. Older people who have a wealth of practical, business and life skills are much in demand for these kinds of endeavours.

This kind of travel can be an enormously rewarding experience, but it requires careful planning and consideration. You’ll need to be ready for everything from culture shock to living conditions that can be very different from what we’re used to here in Canada. You’ll also have to do your research on what areas of the world you’d like to visit, and what ones to avoid.

The great thing about this kind of vacation is that there are lots of organizations and agencies that can help you plan it—from choosing what to do, to arranging your whole visit. For a more in-depth look, see the full blog post here.

It’s showtime!

At least it feels like that here at Oaken. We just wrapped up The MoneyShow Toronto earlier this month, where we enjoyed meeting and greeting many old friends, and some new ones too. The MoneyShow is a great opportunity to hear some of the top financial minds in Canada give you their insights into where markets are going, and what strategies you should be considering for your financial future. But if you missed us at the MoneyShow, there are quite a few opportunities to catch us at another show soon.

We’re going to be at the Kerby Expo 2016 in Calgary on Saturday, October 1, a regular event at the Kerby Centre that offers wine tastings, live music, free massages and various educational sessions.

After that we’ll be at the ZoomerShow in Toronto on October 29 and 30. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the ZoomerShow is a “Consumer and Lifestyle Expo for those 45 and up”, which is almost half of Canada’s population. It’s a fun event of entertainment, trends, products, celebrity guests and a whole lot more of this and that, plus for the 2nd year running it also features The British Isles Show. What’s more, we’re also happy to offer you free tickets for this event – click here to book your place!

And finally, it will be our first time at the National Women’s Show in Toronto, which is on November 4-6. This is their 14th annual show in Toronto, and will feature more than 450 exhibits, displays and vendors. Fashion, beauty and wellness, travel, food—the show has it all, and is a great way to get the scoop on the newest goods and services for women just coming to market. So we’d love to see you there, or at any of the other shows this fall!

Reading corner

This month, we have an eclectic set of readings to ease into fall…


The information, materials and opinions contained in this Blog are provided for your information only. This Blog does not constitute legal, financial or other professional advice and you should not rely on it as an alternative to specific advice based on your particular circumstance.

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