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Weekly Personal Finance Roundup For August 28, 2015

August 28th, 2015
Weekly RoundUp 12
   

Happy Friday everyone!

Featured this week on LSM Insurance was our latest infographic on disability insurance, which clarified baffling definitions of disability that tend to confuse applicants.

We rounded up other recent articles below, featuring insights and advice from the brightest minds in personal finance:

The Motley Fool shared the 7 simple money tips that could help students earn an A+ in personal finance.

The Insurance and Investment Journal wrote that most Canadians believe financial advice is valuable.

For Canadians interested in getting some extra help at home, Sheryl Smolkin shared 6 things you need to know about hiring a nanny.

Patrick McKeough guest posted on The Financial Independence Hub about the right way to calculate your retirement income.

MoneySense magazine revealed that Canadians spend more on their tax bills than food and shelter.

Reuters reported on an AIG request for $1.76 billion from a Pennsylvania firm after they alledgedly overcharging for life insurance policies.

The Financial Post reported on Wednesday that Canadians have become better at making consumer debt payments on time, citing a TransUnion report. Another report stated that Canadian debt levels were rising.

Money On Trees revealed the top ways on how you can prepare for university or college.

Rob Carrick at The Globe And Mail explains why a falling stock market is great for Millennials.

MillionDollarJourney.com posted a great list of insurance policies business owners should know about.

The Orlando Business Journal revealed that Orlando, Florida, residents may find the life insurance policies they purchased over a decade ago may not be sufficient today.

MarketWatch.com, citing a recent survey, reported Tuesday that women may not be financially prepared for the death of their spouse

Hope you enjoy the articles above, have a great weekend!

INFOGRAPHIC: Disability Insurance Demystified

August 27th, 2015

As explained in our infographic below. there are some important definitions and points in a disability insurance policy that would confuse an applicant because of the fine print involved, or in a worse-case scenerio, prevent them from paying you a cent because you didn't understand the insurance contract.

Disability Insurance Definition Demystified

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Weekly Personal Finance Roundup For August 21, 2015

August 21st, 2015
Weekly RoundUp 01
 

Happy Friday everyone!

We were happy to have been featured this past week on Leafly.com who wrote about our discussion with CBC.ca on medical marijuana and life insurance.

Also featured this week on LSM Insurance was an article detailing the pros and cons of segregated funds.

We rounded up other recent articles below, featuring insights and advice from the brightest minds in Canadian personal finance:

Live Insurance News wrote about how insurance companies need to adapt in the face of frequent natural disasters.

The Globe and Mail wrote about how you could use your RRSP to purchase a cottage.

Business Today revealed this past week that insurance companies have started to allow clients to manage their life insurance policies online.

Insurance and Financial Web News wrote about the increase of insurance-related jobs in the United States.

Business News Asia reported on an Asian country with the highest insurance penetration in the world.

Insurance Business America revealed that less than one third of insurance customers are satisfied with their current product. Later in the week, they reported on the increasing health insurance premiums in Canada

The National Post reported on the increase in premiums further while revealing that during the last decade, the average family paid $12,000 for health care insurance.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Segregated Funds Pros and Cons

August 19th, 2015
best life insurance calculators
 

Are you looking for ways to invest your money towards a comfortable retirement and need some ideas? If so, you may be interested in segregated funds. We'll review the pros and cons of segregated funds and take a deeper look into what they are so you can make an informed decision and whether its the right retirement investment for you.

Essentially, segregated funds are similar to mutual funds and are often referred to as “mutual funds with an insurance policy wrapper.”

What are Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds are stocks and bonds pooled together by a group of investors and are managed by professionals. Since there is a number of investors, there are different types of portfolios depending on individual risk levels.

One of the main advantages of both mutual funds and segregated funds is that they give small investors access to diversified portfolios of bonds, equities and securities which they wouldn’t typically have access to with a smaller investment.

What are Segregated Funds?

Segregated funds are essentially the same thing as mutual funds, except they have a layer of added insurance protection, which comes at a premium in the form of higher management fees.

One main characteristic of segregated funds is they are guaranteed to protect part of your investment, usually 75% to 100%. If the value of your investment drops below the guaranteed level, the investor will be able to get back the shortfall after a specific term which is usually ten years.

Segregated fund contracts will allow you to periodically lock-in the guarantee level when your segregated fund increases in value, but this also resets the 10 year term. Therefore, the downside to exercising a reset option is that you would have to wait longer to get your original capital back should there be a sudden downturn in the fund value.

Main Difference Between Mutual Funds and Segregated Funds

Another major difference between the two investments, aside from the fees and guarantees, is that segregated funds can only be sold by insurance companies, because they are individual insurance contracts.

Whereas many other types of financial institutions can sell mutual funds because there is no insurance contract, only an investment component. Many industry experts speculate on the reason for life insurance companies having the exclusive rights to sell segregated funds, claiming it is the only way insurance carriers could compete with other investment fund dealers in the free market.

What do Advisors Think of Segregated Funds?

If you are working with an investment advisor to build your portfolio, they probably either like them or they don’t and their opinions hinge on how they see segregated funds as a long-term investment.

Pro: Advisors for segregated funds think the built-in protection is worth paying the higher fees, particularly when it comes to riskier portfolios.

Con: Advisors against segregated funds say that other investments are better because they don’t see the guarantee that comes from paying higher fees as a benefit to investors. They see the added insurance cost as corroding investment returns, which greatly affects long-term investments negatively.

As you can see, the higher fees play a big role when it comes to segregated funds. So the question to ask yourself is do you think the higher fees are worth it for you. So now we’ll take a look at more pros and cons.

Segregated Fund for Estate Planning

Segregated funds are a popular estate planning investment because of the combination of growth potential and the security of a life insurance policy.

Guaranteed Income: Generally, retirement segregated funds also come with a guaranteed lifetime income element. Investors can choose when they will withdraw income and how much they will withdraw – and the income is protected. This investment is appealing to investors who are risk averse because they get exposure to the stock markets, but don’t risk losing their capital.

Creditor protection for self-employed individuals: If the insurance policy portion names an immediate family member as a beneficiary, the funds are protected from creditors.

Segregated Fund Expense Ratio Comparison – Con

Management Expense: The management expense for segregated funds can be as high as 3.3%, while an average mutual fund is 2.4%; which can significantly put a dent in returns in the long-run.

The main pros and cons of segregated funds can be summarized as follows:

Segregated Funds Pros

  • The principal investment is guaranteed: Depending on the specific contract, 75% to 100% of the initial investment is guaranteed, provided it is held for a set time, which is usually 10 years. If the value of the segregated fund rises, many policies allow investors to reset the guaranteed amount to take into account the higher value.
  • Death Benefit is Guaranteed: Depending on the insurance contract, beneficiaries will be paid out 75% to 100% of the investors contributions, tax free. As well, these monies aren’t subject to probate fees, provided the beneficiary is named.
  • Creditor Protection for self-employed business owners: There is the potential to add creditor protection to a segregated fund policy, which is beneficial if you’re an investor who operates their own business.

Segregated Funds Cons

  • Higher Fees: To cover the cost of the insurance component, segregated funds have higher fees.
  • Money is Locked-in: Investors have to keep their money in the segregated fund until the maturity date to take advantage of the guarantee. If they cash out prior to that date they will get the current market value of their investment minus early withdrawal fees.
  • Early Withdrawal Penalties: If the investment is cashed out prior to the maturity date there may be a stiff penalty.

Weekly Personal Finance Roundup For August 14, 2015

August 14th, 2015
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Happy Friday everyone!

We were happy to have been featured this past week on CBC.ca discussing medical marijuana and life insurance. Our Director of Marketing was also interviewed on CBC's Edmonton AM radio program on Monday.

Also featured this week on LSM Insurance was an article detailing the costs of assisted living in Canada.

We rounded up other recent articles below, featuring insights and advice from the brightest minds in Canadian personal finance:

Wall Street Point's Ramona Marshall wrote on Thursday about a 0.4% decline on Toronto-Dominion Bank's stock price, which also includes life insurance companies.

Angela Mulholland from CTVNews.ca wrote about how skipping travel insurance while travelling in Canada may end up costing you more than you think.

MoneySense.ca revealed that Canadians are in at least 22% more debt compared to this time last year. In another article featured in the Globe and Mail, Kiran Rana explained that although Canadians are borrowing more, much of it is 'good debt.'

Joanne Sgro-Killworth of EmpowHER.com explained how health care systems in Canada, Britain and the US differ, including the fact that dealing with insurance related issues in Canada is less costly than between the three countries.

The Boomer & Echo personal finance blog wrote about the top three financial mistakes to avoid, adding that putting your children ahead of your retirement might not be a good thing. Enter Boomer's HUGE Five-Year Anniversary Contest to win one of 62 prizes worth over $5,000! LSM Insurance was proud to sponsor the contest with over $100 worth of online budgeting tools to be won.

The Freedom Thirty Five blog wrote about the best way to get a raise at work and why most bosses aren't as rich as you would think.

The Financial Post said Toronto's red-hot housing market is high risk and may trigger insurance claims.

Have a great weekend everyone!

How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?

August 13th, 2015
assisted living cost canada long term care insurance

Assisted living has become increasingly popular with seniors who want to maintain an independent lifestyle while getting some help with daily life activities and reassurance that help is available round the clock, if required.

For those planning for their future, a retirement community is a great option for when you need additional help and don’t want burden your loved ones.

However, as assisted living arrangements are not covered under provincial health insurance plan, many people are not financially prepared to foot the costs of these living arrangements.

The price of living in a retirement community varies significantly depending on where one lives in Canada, the type of accommodation required, quality of care provided and the number of amenities a facility offers.

On average, in 2013, residents of retirement communities paid anywhere from $1,453 to around $3,204 monthly.

These rates are only rising, as according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporations' Seniors' Housing Report 2014, the average rent rose from $1,995 to $2,043 from 2013 to 2014.

In provinces where the cost of assisted living is highest, like Prince Edward Island, residents paid an average of $4,752 more in 2014 than they did in 2013.

Average Monthly Rent Across Canada 2014

  • Newfoundland and Labrador $2,105
  • Prince Edward Island $2,782
  • Nova Scotia $2,707
  • New Brunswick $2,395
  • Quebec $1,497
  • Ontario $2,776
  • Manitoba $1,815
  • Saskatchewan $2,536
  • Alberta $2,329
  • British Columbia $2,021

Provincially, the highest average rents were recorded in Prince Edward Island ($2,782) and Ontario ($2,776) while; the lowest rents were in Quebec ($1,497) and Manitoba ($1,815).

Additionally, the cities with the highest average rents include:

  • Toronto at $3206
  • Regina at $3105
  • Ottawa at $3017

While, Saguenay ($1,246), Sherbrooke ($1,308) and Trois-Rivières ($1,575) offer some of Canada’s lowest assisted living rents.

Type of care and facilities

Depending on the size of accommodation and the number of facilities provided, the costs of assisted living can vary diversely. When planning for the future it is important to assess the rates of different amenities and care options.

Over 90 percent of assisted living facilities offer 24-hour call bell service, while only 50 percent offer an on-site nurse service. Amenities like exercise facilities and swimming pools are more rare, and there availability can cost you even more.

Generally, the greater the number of facilities offered the higher the rate will be charged. At the top-end, residents of retirement communities pay around $6,000 for their living arrangements.

Another consideration when deciding on an assisted living facility is the intensity of care required. For those who require 1.5 hours or more of daily care, a heavy-care facility is ideal. However, this increases expenses as most heavy-care facilities cost an average of $3,651 per month. That is $1,608 more than that of regular care in Canada.

When planning for the future, it is important to consider the type of living arrangements and the amenities you might require to ensure that you are financially prepared.

Being financially prepared

In addition to being informed about the types of assisted living options available and their financial cost, investing in Long-Term Care (LTC) insurance plans can help you prepare for the future.

LTC plans cover what provincial health plans do not. This coverage ensures that the care you require in the future does not become a strain on your retirement savings or burden your loved ones.

To qualify for the benefit, the insured person must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Require constant supervision because of deteriorated mental ability
  2. Require psychical assistance with at least two activities of daily living, such as, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, continence and feeding

Some examples of requiring assistance include:

  • Needing assistance getting in and out of the shower
  • Requiring assistance getting your clothes on an off
  • Always needing helping getting on and off the toilet
  • Needing help moving in and out of a chair
  • Being unable to control your bowel, and requiring assistance with personal hygiene and upkeep
  • Requiring assistance to eat

The insured person must need stand-by assistance during bathing and transferring. Stand-by assistance means another person must be with-in arms reach, to ensure the safety of the individual.

It's never to early to prepare for your future, as once a change of health occurs, long-term care insurance may not be available.

For additional details on assisted living costs, visit: http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/odpub/esub/65991/65991_2014_A01.pdf?fr=1434057636636

Weekly Personal Finance Roundup For August 7, 2015

August 7th, 2015
Weekly RoundUp 02 

Happy Friday Everyone!

This week on the LSM blog, we featured a former NHLer turned life insurance broker, David LeNeveu, who gave his recommendations on the best life insurance options.

We rounded up other recent articles below, featuring insights and advice from the brightest minds in Canadian personal finance:

The Freedom Thirty Five blog revealed the best way to plan for retirement. In addition, Michael James detailed what you should do with that retirement money and how spending your retirement savings is just as important as saving it.

The Toronto Star's Dan Taekema wrote about an Alberta mother who was left with a $30,000 bill for an air ambulance. Later in the week, the Star's Carola Vyhnak detailed the history of the Canada Life Building, built in 1931. 

Globe and Mail columnist Tim Cestnick revealed the best way to transfer a cottage after you pass away by using life insurance to cover the taxes on a cottage after death.

On the Financial Independence Hub, Marie Engen explained the top reasons why the elderly may be susceptible to financial scammers.

Finally this week, Andrew Rickard from the Insurance and Investment Journal wrote about a boom in operations at Sun Life.

Have an amazing weekend everybody!

What The Financial Experts Own – David LeNeveu

August 6th, 2015
Life insurance expert and NHLer David LeNeveu giving recommendations.
Life insurance expert and NHLer David LeNeveu.

David LeNeveu

Life Insurance Broker at CK Insurance Brokers

1. What Type of Life Insurance do you own?

My wife and I own both Term 20 and Universal Life Insurance (T100 with no overfunding). We are also in the process of purchasing Whole Life to increase our permanent insurance coverage and to provide a safe and reliable "pension" for ourselves when we retire.

2. What factors did you consider when determining the coverage amount?

When I didn’t have enough assets, I carried $1,000,000 of term insurance on my life. I did this so that my wife could care for herself and our kids, and put them through college if I died.

3. Do you believe in Life Insurance for Children?

I am 100% for parents insuring their children using a 20 Pay Whole Life Product. I have family with children that were diagnosed with diseases by age 1 that will make them uninsurable moving forward. A whole life product purchased when the children were eligible would have served two purposes: it would have protected their insurability moving forward while providing them with a base amount of insurance; second, it would have provided them with cash values that could be used in addition with or instead of a government RESP. The cash values are flexible and could be used for school or other needs (ie: medical) that may not qualify under RESP plans. The newly approved universal child tax benefit provides families with a great way to protect and invest in their children's future.

4. What is The Biggest Life Insurance mistake people make?

The biggest life insurance mistake that people make is believing that the coverage they have through their job is sufficient. I have advised clients from many walks of life (RCMP, Firefighter, Nurse, Accountant, etc) and not once have I encountered a benefit plan that has provided the client (and their family) with the amount and scope of coverage they needed at the time. Some plans had great "on the job" coverage but lacked proper coverage when they weren't working. I think group benefits are great but they should be used in concert with a properly designed individual plan.

5. Outside of Life Insurance what other types of individual insurance are often over looked?

I believe that disability insurance is often overlooked. A properly designed disability plan can protect your family and your income earning ability.

David is originally from a small ski town named Fernie, BC which is located in southwestern BC. He spent the first 17 years of his life in Fernie before coming to Nanaimo for the first time to play hockey for the Nanaimo Clippers in 2000. The Clippers provided him with the opportunity to play for Cornell University the following year. At Cornell University, he majored in Applied Economics and Management and was an Academic All American. During his time at Cornell, he won the Ivy League and ECAC championships, played in the Frozen Four and for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship in Halifax, winning a silver medal along Marc Andre Fleury and was drafted into the NHL in the second round by the Phoenix Coyotes.

After two years with Cornell, David left to play professional hockey. He have enjoyed a successful 12 year professional career which includes stops in the AHL, KHL (Russia), NHL and Austria. While in Austria, he won the European Trophy, Continental Cup, Austrian Championship, and he represented Team Canada in the Spengler Cup. His time in the NHL included stops with the Phoenix Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, and most recently as the back up goaltender for the NY Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals.

<Back to Life Insurance – What The Experts Own

Weekly Personal Finance Roundup For July 31st 2015

July 31st, 2015
Weekly RoundUp 11

Happy Friday Everyone! 

We were happy to have a guest post featured on MillionDollarJourney.com discussing the benefits of Universal Life insurance policies.

Syed Raza was quoted in the Life Health Pro Magazine, discussing the recent push by licensed marijuana producers to encourage group health insurance plan sponsors to cover medical marijuana for plan members.

On the LSM Insurance Blog, we listed out the best online budgeting tools for Canadians to use to help get their personal finances on track.

We rounded up other recent articles below, featuring insights and advice from the brightest minds in Canadian personal finance:

Toronto Star Investment Columnist Gordon Pape discusses 3 things that grind his gears.

The Financial Post shared a nice article on how to use your frequent-flyer miles to pay for university.

The Globe and Mail shared an excerpt from the book The Nine Rules of Credit: What Everyone Needs to Know by Richard Moxley, telling readers what really happens to their credit rating when they miss a mortgage payment.

Barry Choi shares a tip for Torontonians who are looking for free passes to many popular attractions.

MoneySense posted an interesting tale of a British court overturning the will of a mother who had chosen to give her estate to charities rather than her surviving child.

Young and Thrifty readers received some great tips on how to save on auto insurance premiums, by checking rates often and looking out for new promotions.

CanadianBudgetBinder.com explains the difference between discretionary income and disposable income in their latest post.

Jordann at My-Alternate-Life.com, explains why it's okay to enjoy life and be a bad minimalist sometimes.

The Blunt Bean Counter breaks down six typical situations where Canadians might have to deal with the CRA and how to handle them.

Have an amazing Civic Holiday Long Weekend Folks!

The Best Online Budgeting Tools

July 28th, 2015
best online budget tools
 

For many Canadians, trying to budget for bills, short-term investments, retirement savings and life in general can be mind boggling and frustrating at times. Proper budgeting requires an ongoing process of fact-finding, setting goals and monitoring progress.

There is a lot for the average Canadian to keep up with when it comes to their personal finances. Luckily, there are online budgeting websites and tools that can help you cut the stress of budgeting down to a minimum.

Here's our list of a few solid tools to get you started:

 

canada govt tool

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada's Tools Section 

This Financial Consumer Agency of Canada website offers a suite of basic financial planning tools for Canadians to use. Their Budget Calculator gives users a snapshot of where their finance are going. 

To use the online budget calculator you just have to enter information about your income, savings and expenses.

The tool will summarize your data, and let you know if you have money left over for investments.

The government website also hosts a Credit Card Selector tool, Credit Card Payment Calculator and Mortgage Calculator tools. 


 

mindful budgeting header

Blonde on a Budget's Mindful Budgeting Program

This website details the journey of the blog founder, Cait Flanders, and how she paid off $30,000 in debt, created a minimalist lifestyle by giving away 65% of her possessions and went on a shopping ban for one-year.

On her blog, she offers strategies and actionable tips on how to do what she did. She has also created a paid tool, the Mindful Budgeting Program, which consists of 2 PDF files packed with 30-pages of content including many useful templates.

The course includes detailed instructions on how to use the weekly and monthly budget templates.

At $17(USD), the program is reasonably priced for everything you get. This tool has much more to offer than many personal finance books out there, at a similar price point.

Blonde on a Budget's program is perfect for anyone who wants to gain clarity about their personal finances and ultimately save more money.


 

min canada header

Mint For Canada

Mint for Canada is a free online budget program, with a phone app, that lets you keep all your financial accounts together and create budgets. It organizes and categorizes your spending and supports all major banks and accounts in Canada - from savings and chequing to retirement accounts.

One really good feature is that it is automated and can tell you how much money you have left for savings after your budget is created.

Since the Mint program knows the scoop about your money, it also gives tips to you save money. It has the ability to analyze financial data and make personal recommendations based on your goals and lifestyle.

It’s important to note that the Mint Canada software is free, but they make money from the financial institutions it recommends. For example if they recommend a certain CIBC product and you buy it, they get a commission.

This does not mean their suggestions are not good, just that you have to take them with a grain of salt.

Mint Canada is a great tool for people just starting a budget. It might not be a great fit for experienced budgeteers looking for a new solution, since the software can only obtain up to three months historical data from your financial accounts.


Other Tools

When it comes to online budgeting tools, the majority do the same thing – it just boils down to personal preference. Below is a list of other popular tools you can check out.

Quicken Intuit: Is a paid program that you download that also gives you a free credit report.
Money Strands: Is a free American public financial management website created after the recession started in 2007.
Budget Pulse: Is a free online program that offers simple budgeting and tracking features.

Financial freedom is not just about creating a brilliant budget, it also involves lifestyle changes and sticking to them. Albeit, these kinds of life changes may seem confining, they actually bring a certain sense of freedom that is hard to achieve when you don not have spending under control.

If you want to take control of your money, the above list of the best online budgeting tools in Canada can help you start. Try them to see which one you like best. Please feel free to let us know if there are any other good tools worth mentioning in the comments below.

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