2020 was a rough year on many fronts. Many people lost jobs, friends, and family. Financially, some faired well but many people we hit hard and experienced increased financial stress. With such a trying year now behind us, it is important to start off 2021 in the best financial standing possible. To help you accomplish that, we have created a financial checklist for you to follow in 2021.
In this blog post, we put together a list of all things that should be on your to-do list for 2021. For more information on any of the topics, click on the headings to be redirected to one of our more in depth blog posts on the subject.
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The first thing on your financial checklist should be loading up your TFSAs. On Jan. 1st we were granted an additional $6000 of new contribution room. Enjoy the gift, embrace the gift. Load yours up today. Below is a table depicting the amount you can contribute based on your year of birth:
Quick Tip: Make sure that your spouse is listed as the Successor Holder, NOT just the beneficiary. It’s simple to change and saves a huge headache and potential income tax complication if you are to predecease.
We will continue saying this until all of our readers have one. A POA and Will are an absolute necessity for anyone over the age of 18. A health care directive is also important. Spend the money so your loved ones can pay your bills. Seriously.
Financial checklist item number three revolves around RESPs. Each year the government provides each RESP beneficiary with a matching grant of 20% on contributions up to $2,500. Make it your goal this year to put away $2,500 for their future, and receive a 20% ($500) grant.
Furthermore, maybe you didn’t contribute when your kids were younger. Luckily, if there is unused grant money, you can contribute up to $5,000 per beneficiary in a year to receive the 20% grant. Remember this only applies if there are unused grants.
Additionally, make sure that the beneficiaries are set up correctly, and always make sure that you open a family RESP instead of an individual one. This provides more flexibility if one child decides not to go to school or doesn’t use up their full allotment.
Knowing what to do with your money is important. If we don’t have a solid plan, we are more likely to blow the dough. Close to 40% of Canadians surveyed feel their financial futures are not in control. Seeking out the professional advice of a trusted advisor can help mitigate the stress and anxiety around your financial future.
An international HSBC study, The Future of Retirement, in 2011 showed that those with financial plans accumulated nearly 250% more retirement savings than those without a financial plan in place. Furthermore, nearly 44% of those who have a financial plan in place save more money each year for retirement. Get one. You won’t regret it.
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If you haven’t done so already, contribute to your RRSP by March 1st to enjoy the tax deductions on your 2020 tax returns. We suggest RRSP contributions for anyone with taxable earnings of $95,000 or more. Lower incomes may still benefit from RRSP contributions but you should seek advice on its efficiency.
Want to level up? Make RRSP contributions (18% of your 2018 taxable income) and use the tax return money to load up the additional $6000 of TFSA room you were given for 2020.
If you are celebrating your 71st Birthday this year, remember that you need to convert all your RRSPs to RRIFs by year-end. If you aren’t turning 71 this year, stay on course, and keep filling those saving vehicles.
Once you have converted RRSPs to RIFs there is a minimum that must be withdrawn. That minimum withdrawal is mandatory the year following the conversion. However, maybe you don’t need to extra income yet. A great option, in this case, is to use that additional income to max out your TFSA.
Want to retire early? You can apply for CPP as early as age 60, and OAS as early as age 65. You should contact your financial planner to help coach you through making the decision that’s right for you.
2020 had a lot of economic volatility. Turn off the news and move forward with your day. Don’t like what you hear? We offer the same advice – save some extra money, turn off the news, and move forward. Some sectors of the economy are struggling and others are booming. That could change, but it might not. If you’re prepared with an adequate emergency fund, don’t sweat the future.
A financial checklist wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention budgets. We always recommend that people take the time to do an annual review of their finances. This is something that we incorporate with our financial planning clients because we truly believe in its power.
Thinking about your 2020 financial goals, and evaluating how you did, is a great way to set goals for 2021. Celebrate the victories and look at areas that could use improvement. Review your long-term financial goals and goals you have for the next year. Breaking these “goals” into bite-size pieces will help keep you focused and motivated.
An inquiry that occurs when a lender that has an existing relationship with you, checks your credit report as a soft background check. Credit card companies do this most often when they want to offer you increased credit limits. Soft inquiries can occur with or without your permission, but don’t worry – they won’t affect your credit score.
If you would like to check your credit score, the two most reputable sources are Equifax and Transunion. Both of these sources do have a cost. There are also free services out there, most notably, CreditKarma. Like stated above, checking your own credit score won’t hurt it because it is a soft inquiry.
File Your Taxes
Don’t forget to file your taxes by April 30th. Being negligent in your tax filing can result in two outcomes, neither of which are particularly enjoyable.
1) If you owe the government additional tax money, but do not file, you will be charged interest on the sum owed.
2) If you are supposed to get a tax return, but don’t file, you are giving the government a tax free loan of the sum they owe you!
Either way, be prudent and get those tax returns filed. Before April 30th.
We hope this list allowed you to think about some of the financial actions that should be included in your 2021 financial checklist. Can you think of anything we forgot? – Comment below. Need help achieving one or multiple things on the list? Again, comment below, or contact us.
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Disclaimer: This Forbes Wealth Blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, legal, or tax advice of any kind. Please consult your legal, accounting, tax, investment, banking, and life insurance professionals to get precise advice relating to your particular situation before acting upon any strategy