8 Things to Keep in Mind When Planning Your Retirement

As the baby boomer generation prepares to leave the workforce, people all across Canada are thinking about their retirement savings. You want to be able to live out your golden years with financial stability and peace of mind.

So how do you properly prepare to retire comfortably? Here are eight tips to keep in mind when planning your retirement.

Start Early

Start saving as early as you can. If you’re in your 20s, you think you have all the time in the world. However, the years can sneak up faster than you think, and you want to build the biggest nest egg possible.

Your 20s are actually the perfect time to start saving. But don’t worry if you’re older and haven’t put away as much as you should have. You might have some catching up to do, but even small savings are better than none.

If you do need to catch up, start by slashing unnecessary expenses. Make coffee at home instead of going to expensive shops, or cut back on entertainment. Put away as much as possible while you can.

You might not like giving up some luxuries now, but you’ll be glad you did when you retire and need the money you saved.

Be Honest

You can find various guidelines for how much money you’ll need to retire. Many sources list an estimate of one million dollars. However, this figure doesn’t fit everyone.

To figure out how much you should save, you need to assess your spending habits and think about the kind of lifestyle you want in retirement. Do you want to travel a lot, or would you prefer to stay home and enjoy your family? Are you accustomed to a higher standard of living and want to maintain it?

Be honest with yourself about how you want to live after retiring. You won’t do yourself any favours by thinking you can live on less than you actually can.

Once you understand your spending habits, you should think about how long you’re likely to live. Are you currently healthy? Do you have an active lifestyle? Take a look at your older family members’ lifespans, especially parents and grandparents.

If you expect to live into your 90s or beyond, then you’ll need to save enough to accommodate a long life.

Get a Financial Advisor

Many people find retirement accounts confusing. When you’re trying to decide what type of account will work best for you, you need a financial advisor to help you navigate the tax system.

Find a good advisor who can explain your options and help you manage the best account for your needs. There are two main types of retirement accounts:

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

An RRSP is a tax-exempt retirement savings plan registered through the Canada Revenue Agency. You put money in the account and as long as the funds stay in the plan, you don’t have to pay taxes on them. However, you do have to pay taxes when you start to make withdrawals from your account.

Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

A TFSA is a registered savings plan that allows you to earn investment income free of taxes. Withdrawals from a TFSA are also tax free.

You can have both a TFSA and an RRSP.

Pay Off Your Debt

Before you can start seriously saving for retirement, you need to pay off all your debts. If you can be debt-free sometime in your 50’s, you’ll be in a good place. Pay off your mortgage, cars, and any consumer debt.

If you’re paying for your children’s college tuition, see if they can work part-time to help lessen the burden on you.

See What Your Company Offers

Don’t pass up free money. Many companies offer match programs for RRSP accounts. This means they’ll match whatever you contribute up to a certain limit. The money will come out of your paycheck automatically.

Even if you’re starting an RRSP while you’re still young, you should still contribute at least as much as your employer will match.

Work If You Can

If you’re in good health when you retire, you can preserve your retirement savings by working part-time. You should still save as if you won’t be able to work. However, a little extra income will help your savings last longer.

Minimize Bonds

Don’t put most of your investment portfolio into bonds, even after you retire. Inflation over time can decrease bonds’ buying power. Stocks are better for long-term returns.

Draw From Multiple Accounts

When you retire, don’t go through all the savings in your non-retirement accounts before switching to your registered accounts. Instead, draw from both.

This is especially important if you have an RRSP. When you begin withdrawing money from your RRSP, you have to pay taxes on it.

If you withdraw a little from both your regular savings accounts and your retirement accounts, you will have a smaller tax bill overall than if you go through all your regular savings first and rely exclusively on your RRSP.

It’s never too late to start saving for retirement. With these tips and a good financial advisor, you can enter your golden years with confidence.

Calgary Insurance: 403.723.9416

Medicine Hat Insurance: 403.526.3283

Brooks Insurance: 403.501.5123

The Secret to Choosing the Right Insurance Provider

There are tons of insurance providers out there. How do you sift through all the competing voices and find the right insurance provider for your needs? This blog post will give you the tools you need to select the best insurance for you.

The Features of Insurance Plans

Most insurance providers offer similar coverage and benefits, and most will cover pre-existing conditions and preventative services. What normally sets them apart are other factors:

  • Plan Categories: Many insurance providers offer different tiers of coverage within an insurance type. When you look at the different tiers, choose one that covers you fully without putting a strain on your wallet.
  • Provider Network: Some insurance companies often work closely with certain specialists, like doctors. You can get better deals on medical treatments if you work with doctors on the insurance company’s provider network.
  • Monthly Premiums: You will have to send your insurance provider a check (or premium) every month. The amount that you pay depends on your insurance provider and the tier of coverage you chose. You should find an insurance plan with full coverage for a low monthly premium, which is why you should always compare rates before buying insurance.
  • Out-of-pocket Costs: This is what you pay in addition to your monthly premiums, also known as the copay. It’s the percentage of any medical treatment or repair that the insurance company won’t help you pay for. Different insurance companies offer different amount, so compare out-of-pocket costs before buying insurance too.

The Guide to Choosing Coverage

Once you’ve identified the differences between the insurance providers around you, you need to decide what kind of coverage you need. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Identify what you absolutely need protection for. If your family is predisposed to a certain illness, or if you have a teenager that will start driving soon, you need to make sure your insurance fully covers all the risks associated with those scenarios.
  2. Don’t get more coverage than you need. Most insurance providers have some flexibility when it comes to choosing what your plans do or don’t cover. Don’t overbuy insurance. Find a plan that suits your individual needs, giving you the coverage you require at a price you can afford.
  3. Check the insurance provider’s network. Does it have dependable, reputable doctors and hospitals on it? Do you already have a doctor you trust? If you do, you’ll want to make sure that doctor is listed on the provider network.
  4. Check the details. How much will you pay out of pocket? Does the coverage extend to medications? What is the annual limit on coverage and services? Insurance companies do have limits for covering the cost of procedures. Make sure you have answers to all of these questions before you buy. As long as you ask questions and read the fine print, you shouldn’t have any illusions about what your insurance covers.

The Debate: Online vs. In Person

When you shop for your next insurance provider, should you do it online, or should you do it in person? There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Online

When you shop online, you can compare providers and plans side by side in quick succession. You can quickly identify which plans provide the type of coverage you’re looking for, and you can select the companies you’re want more information from.

In Person

When you shop in person, you’re able to ask the insurance agent direct questions, and you’ll receive direct answers. You won’t have to worry about ambiguous language or missing information because you can just get clarification from the agent. However, this means that you won’t get to compare plans side by side, and you’ll have to deal with the agent’s loyalty to his or her insurance company—any responsible agent will try to sell to you.

The best way to shop for insurance is to start online, finding companies that you like, and then interview an agent at each of those companies to get full clarification. Only then can you can a truly informed decision.

The Alternatives

There are some situations where you don’t have to just choose one insurance provider. If you work with an insurance brokerage instead, you can mix and match different insurance plans with different insurance providers. Insurance brokerages also guide you through the entire process of finding a thorough, affordable plan.

Insurance brokerages like Thomson Schindle Green Insurance & Financial Services are dedicated to helping you protect what matters to you. If you would like to learn more about choosing an insurance provider, give us a call. We’d be happy to help.

Calgary Insurance: 403.723.9416

Medicine Hat Insurance: 403.526.3283

Brooks Insurance: 403.501.5123

How to Find the Best Home Insurance

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all home insurance policy in Calgary. Your home is as unique as you are – with possessions, features and value that are not the same as a friend, family or neighbour. Therefore, it is important you have adequate coverage in the event something does happen.

Getting the right coverage is not difficult. In fact, just consulting with a trusted insurance broker in Calgary can help you find the right coverage and premium for your home. It is important, however, that you understand the steps to finding the right level of coverage, so that you can make an informed decision about home insurance in Calgary.

Tips for Finding the Best Homeowner’s Insurance in Calgary, Medicine Hat or Brooks

Not taking the time to find the right level of coverage will cost you. Whether it is when you file a claim or just paying your annual premium, make sure you are truly getting what you are paying for within your home insurance policy.

  • Compare Rates – Never go with the first home insurance policy you find. Instead, compare rates from multiple carriers to see the premiums, deductibles and what level of coverage you get for the price.
  • Compare Insurer Reputations – Unfortunately, there are some insurers out there that do not have the best reputation. These are often the budget insurance companies that hook you with cheap premiums. Just like you compare prices, make the effort to also compare the insurance company’s reputation.
  • Assess Your Risks – Every home is different and depending on where your home is located, your risks may be higher or lower than others. For example, if you live in a flood-prone area, you will want to add flood or water damage coverage to your home insurance in Sherwood Park. Not all policies automatically cover water damage; therefore, it is important to discuss this with your insurance broker.
  • Take a Thorough Inventory – If you want contents coverage or personal property coverage, you need to take a thorough inventory of your home. Write down the items, their estimated value, and replacement costs so that you can pick the right level of insurance coverage to replace those items if they are ever lost, stolen or damaged.
  • Consult Reliable Insurance Brokers – It is hard to estimate on your own how much insurance you need or even what your liabilities may be. So, it is best to speak with an insurance broker who can evaluate your home and help you identify which homeowner’s insurance policy is right for you. An experienced broker can also compare rates from multiple insurance carriers.

Whether you are buying a home or you want to change your coverage, meet with an insurance broker in Calgary today at TSG Insurance. Call us at 403-723-9416 or contact us online for a homeowner’s insurance quote. Or visit us at one of our three offices:

Medicine Hat Home Insurance: 403-526-3283

Calgary Home Insurance: 403-723-9414

Brooks Home Insurance: 403-501-5123

Bassano Home Insurance: 403-641-4988

Edmonton Home Insurance: 780-464-0872

4 Types of Insurance Every University Student Should Have

Like most Canadian university students, you’ve coasted off your parents’ insurance until now. Your job barely paid more than minimum wage, and you lived at home and used your parents’ car. Cost and convenience kept you on your parents’ plan, but now you have a real job and you live at school. You should probably take charge of your own finances now.

This means you need to think about insurance. You might not think you need it, especially if you take public transit and you haven’t had so much as a cold in years. However, if something did happen to you, you probably wouldn’t have enough money to pay for that disaster out of pocket. Insurance would give you a financial safety net in this situation.

Every university student needs the four types of insurance listed below. Make sure you leave enough room for them in your monthly budget.

  1. Health Insurance

As a young person, you probably experience very few medical problems. You have a stronger immune system, stronger metabolism, and overall stronger body than other age groups. You probably haven’t had a real illness in years, and you defeat colds with ease.

Since you manage to stay so healthy, you might think of health insurance as a waste of money. However, a university education can do things to your body that weaken its ability to stay healthy, including:

  • Not sleeping enough: Homework, parties, and other activities can keep you up all night. And the less you sleep, the weaker your immune system becomes. Your body doesn’t have a chance to repair and renew itself, so you become more susceptible to infections.
  • Not eating balanced meals: A poor diet also comes with the university experience. Students subsist off of microwave meals and boxed macaroni and cheese. You’ll eat a lot of carbs, starches, and fats, so you’ll probably gain weight. This weakens your immune system as well, and it puts strain on your organs and systems, leading to all kinds of health problems. For example, these foods could lead to you needing your gallbladder removed.
  • Drinking caffeinated beverages: Caffeinated sodas, coffee, and tea can all have negative effects on your body. Even non-caffeinated sodas and juices can have a detrimental effect, since their acids can wear away at your stomach lining, which could cause ulcers.
  • Not exercising enough: Between class, homework, social activities, eating, laundry, and sleeping, you won’t have a lot of time for exercise. Some students even find that they stop exercising altogether, which leads to weight gain.

You’ll need health insurance just in case these things make you ill. You’ll also need health insurance in case you sustain injuries while hiking, partying, or participating in other activities. So don’t just brush getting this insurance aside—it could seriously help you if something happened.

  1. Renters’ Insurance

Most university students live in rental units during the school year. You don’t have to pay for any repairs or upgrades in the rental unit, so you might assume that you don’t need renters’ insurance.

First, let’s clear up some misconceptions about renters’ insurance. It doesn’t cover repairs unless you caused the damage and would have to pay for them anyway. It does cover other things, such as all the property you store inside your apartment.

Imagine if a thief broke in and stole your TV or laptop. Think about what you would do if your roommate left the stove on and burned the apartment down, destroying all your belongings. You would have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to replace everything you had lost.

If you had renters’ insurance, you wouldn’t have to worry about this expense. Your insurance company would pay for everything for you. Additionally, renters’ insurance doesn’t cost much. You can often bundle it with your car insurance, which makes it even cheaper.

  1. Homeowners’ Insurance

Not every university student lives in a rental unit. Some have enough money to purchase homes. If this situation applies to you, then you shouldn’t procrastinate on getting homeowners’ insurance. Like renters’ insurance, this insurance covers the property inside your home should theft or damage occur. However, home insurance does far more than that.

It also protects the home’s structure and yard from damage or destruction. Homes cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and you don’t want to have to rebuild one.

Students can benefit from their parents’ home owners insurance policies that extends to cover them while they are enrolled in and attending post-secondary education. As soon as they are done, the parents’ home owners insurance no longer covers them. The coverage will vary from one insurer to another so it’s a good idea for students to get advice from their insurance advisor as to what and if their parents’ policy covers them.

Homeowners’ insurance also covers you in case someone sustains injuries on your property. Even if a person just trips on the sidewalk, he or she could still sue you for damages incurred. This insurance will give you a financial safety net if a person like this actually sues.

  1. Automobile Insurance

If you walk or take public transit, then you don’t need this kind of insurance. However, most university students find it useful to own a car. It helps them travel efficiently from place to place, and it gives them the flexibility to go home on weekends. You won’t have to ask anyone for rides to parties or grocery stores.

If you do own a car, you’ll need auto insurance to protect you in case an accident happens. Even if you drive responsibly, someone else could crash into you. And if you accidentally damage someone’s car or property, you’ll need car insurance to protect you from the resulting expenses.

Even if you’re a university student, insurance matters. Talk to your insurance broker a TSG Insurance & Financial Services Ltd. to find the best insurance solutions for you.

For more insurance and financial planning services, please contact our insurance brokers at one of our 3 locations:

Medicine Hat Insurance: 403.526.3283

Brooks Insurance: 403.501.5123

Calgary Insurance: 403.723.9416

Save Money With Insurance

In today’s economy, it’s often necessary to clip coupons and pinch pennies to stay financially stable.

You may have to cut back on dining out or limit your movie ticket purchases to once a month instead of once a week. Or perhaps, you need to cancel your magazine and newspaper subscriptions in favor of free online sources. And in some cases, you may have to completely forego some of your more expensive activities such as skiing or traveling.

However, if there’s one thing you shouldn’t cut back on, it’s insurance.  Health insurance, car insurance, and home insurance offer necessary protection in times of emergency. Additionally, some insurance is required by law—and if you don’t have it, you have to pay penalty fees.

While you can’t cut back on insurance, you can lower your monthly premiums so you don’t have to pay as much for the same amount of coverage. As a reward for good behavior or loyalty, many companies offer the following discounts, so you can save money on a regular basis.

Good Student Discount

Are you going to school? You may qualify for a discount if you get good grades. The good student discount can apply to younger teens just learning to drive as well as older students still working toward their degrees.

In most cases, the only requirements are that students must maintain a certain grade average and that they provide transcripts as evidence.

Good Driving Discount

Insurance companies love good drivers. The longer you drive without getting in an accident or receiving a ticket, the more money you save for the company—and those savings get passed onto you!

In some cases, the discount increases when you maintain a clean driving record for a set number of years. Sometimes this discount is worked into your rate automatically, while in other cases you may need to ask if you qualify and double-check with your insurance provider to see if the discount is being applied.

Hybrid or Electric Vehicle Discount

Going green with a hybrid or electric vehicle isn’t just great for the environment; it’s also great for your budget. Electric and hybrid vehicles get more miles per the gallon, and in some cases, it can give you a discount on your insurance premium.

Just make sure that your vehicle is identified by the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Insurance companies use an assigned code to approve your car as eco-friendly.

Safety Features Discount

Insurance companies offer discounts for vehicles with a variety of different safety features, such as anti-lock brakes and airbags. Some companies also offer discounts for approved anti-theft devices installed on your car, so long as these devices are approved.

This discount is great if you own a newer car with these features already installed. However, you can still qualify for this discount if you pay to install approved after-market items. Keep in mind that each provider has a different list of qualifying safety features, so ask your company about potential discounts before installing any new equipment.

Multi-Policy Discount

If you have more than one car, then it helps to insure both vehicles through the same company. While you’ll still have to pay insurance for both cars, many companies offer a discount if you have two cars on one policy. Additionally, some insurance companies offer both home and auto insurance, so you could bundle your policy together into one bill.

Longevity Discount

Savvy shoppers know they can switch their insurance provider to snag the latest, most exciting deal available. Comparing quotes and prices will ensure that you have the most coverage for your budget.

However, many companies would prefer that you stay with them for a long time, and they reward that loyalty with additional discounts. Better still, you don’t have to do anything extra to qualify for these discounts—simply stick with your original provider.

Senior Discount

Senior drivers are less likely to get in an accident than teenage drivers. Consequently, many insurance companies offer discounts for senior members over 50.

You may need to brush up on your driving skills by completing and passing a defensive driving course, but the discounts will be worth it.

Don’t forget to ask about a possible low-mileage discount. Many retired seniors cut back on their driving time, so you may be able to save money if you stay under a certain mileage cap per year.

Ask About Available Discounts

These discounts are a great way to save money on your monthly premiums. But, remember that some discounts are only available at certain insurance companies, so you may have to shop around before you find a good policy for you.

If you’re not sure which discounts are available or if you qualify for these discounts, ask your insurance company for more information. You might be able to save hundreds of dollars each year—so don’t wait!