Savvy Family Tip: New Year’s Edition

Do you over- spend at Christmas? Are you guilty of buying ‘just one more’ gift for that special someone? If you’re dreading your January credit card bill, today’s post with Sunlife Financial’s Dan Olson might help you avoid money stress for Christmas 2015. 

New Year’s Saving Resolution 

As the pounding headache caused by excessive merriment over the Christmas Season fades, too many of us are faced by the pounding headache caused by the dreaded JANUARY BILL. Is it time to make a change? 

Let’s start with those credit card bills.  This is the tough part. Did you make good purchase decisions? Could you have enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with 10%, 20%, or 30% less? What would you have to do differently? Do you want to?

An English tradition is the Christmas food hamper: a monthly subscription starting in January results in a delivery in mid-December of a hamper brimming with treats for Christmas. Why not create your own Christmas subscription? 

Open a separate account, or sub-account at your bank & transfer 1/10 of the amount you desire to spend on Christmas 2015 each month starting in February. Then spend the total, but only the total on next year’s festivities. Hint: If that 1/10th amount is too high for you to meet your February obligations, you really can’t afford your ‘dream’ Christmas & it’s time to change your definition of what a dream Christmas really means. After all you’re not wanting to go into credit card debt for a few months after Christmas just so you’re able to have a “blowout Christmas season”, it would be better to sort your finances out so you can balance other expenses while still having great seasonal holidays.

Dan Olson is a Sun Life Financial Advisor. An experienced Dad with three children, now young adults. With everyone back under one roof, his home is feeling really, really small.
If you have some questions for Dan, or would like some help with your family’s savings, here’s how you can contact him: 

604 308 9502
Image Source: Camille Styles
January posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting

$avvy Family Tip: Adult Gift Challenge

Today’s $avvy Family is a cute suggestion to make Christmas gifts memorable vs. material. What’s the most memorable gift you’ve received?

Christmas is a wonderful season. An opportunity to get together with friends and family, share memories and cookies, and exchange gifts. Last year how many of the packages contained gift cards? Were the gifts personal and thoughtful, or rushed and obligatory? Were they more last minute gifts rather than the fancy new watch you wanted from Is anyone creating financial stress on your family, to provide gifts to your relatives? 
One of the most wonderful Christmas traditions I’ve heard about is the Adult Family Gift Challenge. It’s based on the Secret Santa idea, where everyone draws one name to obtain a gift for another. The challenge is that the gift must be obtained with minimal spending and must be thoughtful. The way in which I go about this is to think about whether the gift will be useful in everyday life. If the answer, is yes, go ahead! For example, I was recommended by a friend of mine to looking at a grader for teachers when it comes to the workload of tests and assignements they have to go through. As a friend of mine is a teacher, this is what I aim to do. I know for sure this will help them a lot.

Special recognition is granted each year for the best gift at the lowest price. It’s amazing what’s available for free! You might think it’s a tough challenge, or that the gifts will all be from the dollar store. That’s not necessarily the case. Think about all the free or nearly free stuff that’s available throughout the year. Promotional items offered by companies. The free list on Craigslist. Garage and estate sales. You can find a gift that’s much more valuable and special if you’re a little creative instead of grabbing a gift card in the grocery store checkout. 

Mix in creative wrapping and presentation, the gift exchange becomes memorable. 
My favourite was when an uncle presented a newly licensed niece with a package that looked like a massive roll of Lifesavers- it was 30 inches in diameter! 
When she ripped open the package she discovered 4 snow tires he’d found at a garage sale. Real lifesavers! 

Is your family ready to stop spending and get creative to make Christmas memorable again? 

Dan Olson is a Sun Life Financial Advisor. An experienced Dad with three children, now young adults. With everyone under one roof for the Summer, his home is feeling really, really small.
If you have some questions for Dan, or would like some help with your family’s savings, here’s how you can contact him: 

604 308 9502
Image Source: Comfy Ho.Me
December posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique

Savvy Family Tip #5: Take a Tip from Your Grandma

Today’s Savvy Family tip reminds us that simpler is often better…

Tip # 5 – The modern version of your Great-Grandmother’s strategy.

When your great-grandfather arrived home on Friday evening his pocket contained the family pay packet. The weekly ritual in most successful households was the division of the money to pay for the family needs, rent, groceries, heat, light, telephone. Money was also tucked away for larger purchases, shoes, clothing.

Mason jars and envelopes were the management tools of the day.
When the grocery jar was empty there were no more groceries purchased until after payday. If there wasn’t enough money in the clothing envelope you had to wait, sometimes for a few weeks. If only they had sites like like we do to help them make ends meet.

Our great-grandparents managed real scarcity.

In comparison almost all of us have two pieces of plastic, one that gives us access to every dollar we have, the other allows us to arrange a loan to purchase just about anything from a cup of coffee to a vacation. This situation creates its own problems. It is too easy to spend what we don’t have for items that we really may not need.

We need to create artificial scarcity to assist us to manage our spending.

The envelope method is often suggested as a tool to help us spend less. The challenge is that we’re not used to or comfortable walking around with cash. It seems too 20th century.

An alternative method is the account specific debit card. One family member fills the cars with fuel and goes grocery shopping every Sunday. Sunday evening they transfer a set amount of money from their general account to their debit card accounts. This is their “allowance” for the week. When the debit account is empty, spending stops until next Sunday.

What tools do you use to manage your spending?

Dan Olson is a Sun Life Financial Advisor. An experienced Dad with three children, now young adults. With everyone under one roof for the Summer, his home is feeling really, really small.
If you have some questions for Dan, or would like some help with your family’s savings, here’s how you can contact him:
604 308 9502

Image source: Lily Shop

October posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique

Savvy Family Tip #4: Plan for Holiday Spending Now

For some of us holiday shopping inspires excitement, for others it is a source of stress in anticipation of the credit card bills that follow. Today’s Savvy Family Tip from Dan Olson of Sunlife Financial can help make budgeting for holiday spending stress- free and simple.

Savvy Family Tip # 4 – Plan for Holiday Spending Now

Would you like to eliminate your post-Christmas credit card shock? 

In the middle of gift wrapping have you ever realized that you’ve been really generous? The joys of the Christmas season often cause a January hangover when the credit card bills arrive. 

My wife, Laura, and I discovered a way to reduce the January pain: 

Starting in the summer we put $100 – $200 each month into the Magic Christmas Envelope. From that envelope the gifts and goodies are purchased. Because the funds aren’t unlimited, it’s easier to make better decisions. 

Investing the time to find the perfect gift will make the giving joyful. 

Dan Olson is a Sun Life Financial Advisor. An experienced Dad with three children, now young adults. With everyone under one roof for the Summer, his home is feeling really, really small.
If you have some questions for Dan, or would like some help with your family’s savings, here’s how you can contact him: 
604 308 9502

Image Source: Etsy

September posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique 

Family Saving: RESPs

With back to school just around the corner, it’s a fitting time to discuss saving for college & university. There are a variety of ways to save for your child’s education, but RESPs remain the most common option. Alongside having a personal saving account to save for yourself or your child to go to college, it can help to fund you throughout your/your child’s college education. Understanding Atlantic Union Bank and other banks’ information about a savings account is vital to you making the right decision in how you can save and having good interest rates as well. This article however is about RESPs and to help you understand this popular savings method, I spoke with Kevin Parton, a Certified Financial Planner with Investor’s Group.


Contributed by Kevin Parton, Investor’s Group

An RESP is simply an education savings account that is registered with the
Government of Canada. It allows for you, your family, and your friends to save
for your child’s future education.
When you open your RESP, you become entitled to two Government of Canada
programs: the Canada Education Savings Grant and the Canada Learning Bond (if
you qualify). Also, all of your savings grow tax-deferred, so there are no tax
implications while you are taking advantage of the Government incentives.


– Your savings grow tax-deferred
– If your child doesn’t pursue a post-secondary education, you may have the
option to roll-over your RESP into your RRSPs
– Opening an RESP makes you eligible to collect the Canada Learning Bond (if you
qualify) and the Canada Education Savings Grant
– You may also be eligible for the Alberta Centennial Education Savings Grant
(ACES) or the Quebec Education Savings Incentive (QESI), depending on where you
– There are many different types of RESPs that are available for your family –
speak with an RESP Specialist to help you to determine which plan is of the
most value for your family

Investing outside of an RESP in a Non Registered account
means that you won’t get any grants/government money AND you will pay taxes on
the growth every year. This dramatically limits the long term compounding
Investing outside of an RESP in a TFSA means you won’t get
any grants/government money. You avoid paying tax in the previous scenario
however you don’t get the free government money or the growth you would get on
those additional funds.


When you are ready to withdraw from your RESP savings, how you take out the money (referred to as Educational Assistance Payments or EAPs) can make a difference. EAPs consist of the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG), the Canadian Learning Bond (CLB), and the income/ growth earned from the funds you have invested in the RESP. Here is an exert from Off to College- Get the Most from that RESP published by Investor’s Group:
Withdraw EAPs before withdrawing
As the subscriber of your student’s plan, you can
elect to withdraw the income, grant, and bonds as EAPs, which will be taxable
in the hands of your student whose low income, and personal credits and deductions
(including the tuition credit, education credit, moving expenses deduction, and
so on) should offset some or all of the income inclusion of the EAP.
Withdraw contributions after your student starts school. Early withdrawal will trigger a CESG repayment.
Spread out the EAPs over the length
of your student’s educational program.
Taking a lump sum in the first year may
burden your student with a high taxable income. Spreading out the EAPs over a
number of years takes advantage of your student’s (usually) lower marginal tax
Avoid potential CESG clawbacks by
withdrawing EAPs when you can.
If there is any CESG or CLB remaining
in your investments held within a RESP after your student completes (or leaves)
their post-secondary program, you may be required to refund this “excess” CESG
grant money.
Get proof of enrolment right away so
you’ll have money when you need it.
Before releasing an EAP, your RESP
carrier will require proof of enrollment.
Use leftovers wisely. Any contributions remaining in the plan after your student finishes
college or university are yours to use as you wish – transfer them to another
child’s plan or withdraw them for personal use.

Speaking with a Financial Planner or Advisor can help you determine the best ways to withdraw the funds from your RESPs. Dealing with finances can be difficult, so it’s important that families seek help whenever they’re struggling. It’s always better to seek professional advice. Many financial advisors and planners now use appointment setting services (learn more here) that help them to ensure clients can book in for one-on-one appointments to manage their finances. Financial planners would be happy to help families that need help with their savings, or any other financial problems, so make sure to contact your local advisors for some support.
A big thank you to Kevin Parton for contributing this post to TPB.

About Kevin: Kevin Parton is a Certified Financial Planner with Investor’s Group & one of our financial contributors.
You can reach Kevin at 604 805- 4642 or via email at
For more great financial info, check out TPB’s $avvy Family page.

Image Sources:
My University Money
RESP Chart courtesy of Kevin Parton
Great Info About RESP

August posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique

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