Golden Girl Finance
 
Kevin L. Gebert - Greenrock Financial Group Inc.
Posts (11)
 
 

Investing

How to manage investment risks: The PEP principle

July 29th, 2016 by

Whether you're a political junkie or prefer to sit on the sidelines, here's how to stay focused in an emotional world

 
 

Cherish your own emotions and never undervalue them – Robert Henri (1865-1929)

Politics, Economics and Personal Emotion.  How do these areas affect my financial plan?  What if Donald Trump becomes president?  How does the Brexit result figure into my investments?  What if the Canadian Dollar goes down further? Risk scares me but GIC rates are so low right now!

I created a program called ‘Fun with Finances’ that I used to present to grade 11 and 12 students at a high school near my home.  One of the learning outcomes I wanted to accomplish was to see what we can control when making financial decisions. I called it the P.E.P principle. [On a side note, I tried eating a Cadbury PEP mint chocolate a few times as a kid so I contacted Cadbury’s to see if I could use a picture of the chocolate for a chapter in my first book, Financial Fotographs, but at that time they were discontinuing making the PEP ‘circle’ so I guess it is back to ‘After Eights’ for that mint and chocolate craving but the acronym still works.]

As a self-proclaimed ‘political junkie’ I always enjoy the theater behind the political campaigns especially this time around with the American Election and the Brexit vote.  I may not always agree with the outcomes but I respect the democratic system.  I have always believed that your vote is your ticket to be allowed to ‘complain’ about the outcome of a particular vote.

Another strong belief I have is that in the P.E.P. principle you have a minimal personal effect with politics and economics but almost total control with your personal emotion.  So let’s explore all three letters of the acronym.

Politics 

Depending on whether the political party of the day is left of center, center, or right of center (or between) of the political spectrum it will present different policies both within a particular country and with relationships with other countries.  Government rules and regulations can affect decisions that you make to create your desired standard of living.  Therefore, whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton becomes the 45th US President, the policies and decisions that they will go ahead with could affect your financial plan and investment portfolios in different ways, good or bad, depending on your view and the view that the stock market has.

Economics

Monetary policy, tax systems, interest rate policy, lending rules and credit rules can all affect how our investments react within Canada. These same themes can affect other countries around the world you may have investments in.  You may have heard the saying ‘buy the rumour and sell the news’.  This means you anticipate a decision you have to make based on rumours and the news that you know. Once the ‘truth’ comes out another decision needs to be made.  If you follow the financial news you will see analysts predicting what an investment might due before a report is issued and then how the ‘market’ reacted given the news that was released.

Personal emotion 

The world runs 24/7 with access to information being the easiest it has ever been.  The only problem with this is determining what is true and what is false and how the information you find affects the decisions that you have to make.  Decisions on your financial plan and your risk within your investment portfolio are highly dependent on your personal emotion.  Your emotions may keep you away from making important decisions that need to be made or keep you away from making decisions that you may have seen friends and family fail at before.  Whether it is finding out what risk you would like to take within your investment portfolio, a house you would like to buy, or deciding when you would like to retire. Your emotional state will make a big impact on what you do.  Becoming more financial literate will be a tremendous asset going forward but not everyone has the time or interest in doing this. 

This is where a financial planner and money manager could become an excellent resource.  It is becoming more common for people to hire a life coach to help with life decisions but I would argue having a financial planner and money manager on your side will assist you with making decisions with what you can’t control and add constructive advice when it comes to your personal emotion.

So before you have to make any decisions when it comes to life and your financial plan, take a moment and see how the P.E.P. principle will affect your thinking process.  And make sure that you never undervalue your personal emotions.

Finding passion from personal finance

Over the past year I have found a passion for cooking so I wanted to combine the passion of helping people with money and cooking chicken.  Therefore, my blog ‘Don’t be Chicken With Your Money - Be Smart’ was born.  I encourage you to connect with me and give me your thoughts and opinions on the information I present.  I have to admit that I am more ‘money’ expert than ‘cooking’ expert.

Greenrock Cobb Salad

I sliced boneless chicken breasts and cooked them in the oven for 40 minutes @ 400F and turned the pieces over at 25 minutes.  After cutting the pieces up, I added basil seasoning to the top side before I put the cooking tray into the oven.  The natural juices from the chicken provided a nice coating for the cooking process.  At the same time, I boiled water to cook the Canadian Harvest brown eggs to hard boil, drained the water and filled up with cold water to cool.  It takes 8-10 minutes to hard boil the eggs to my liking.  I also cooked the Maple Lodge Farms Chicken Bacon at thist time. The salad consisted of: Lettuce, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, grated cheese, green onion and blueberries since they are in season.  I tossed the salad with Renée’s Gourmet Poppy Seed Salad Dressing for a few minutes to make sure that the dressing touched every piece of the salad.  To prepare the plate, I covered the salad with pieces of chicken, cheese and bacon and then added additional blueberries and Poppy Seed salad dressing.  The only thing that was missing this time was a nice glass of wine to go along with the meal.

Personal Finance

Life and money on purpose

June 13th, 2016 by

Stop saving your bucket list for a rainy day

 
 

"We’ll wait until Dad retires" was often heard around the house growing up from my mom about my parent’s retirement plans.  Plans of a hobby farm, trips to England to see all the pen-pals and long distance relatives my mom found doing her genealogy work, and other things that were on the ‘bucket list’. 

Once we were told about her cancer diagnosis 18 months prior to her passing on April 18, 2015 those few words was something that I remembered many times but especially during the last week or so in hospice.  I felt sad that my mom would not be able to enjoy retirement with my dad.

Life on purpose

If you look up the word ‘purpose’ you may find it as a noun (intention, meaning, aim) or a verb (intend, set sight on).  What is your ‘money purpose’?  What is your ‘life purpose’?  Two different questions but I would argue that they are related as well.  How often in life is money needed to accomplish something?  A little or a lot depending on what you’re ‘needs’ or ‘wants’ are.  You have heard the saying ‘time is money’.  So if we take that one step further ‘time is life’. 

One ‘intention’ of my mom’s throughout her life was to ‘care’ for her family and others. This she did extremely well. The way she ‘set sight on’ retirement was to wait until my Dad retired so that they could live out their retirement dreams together.

Since my mom has passed I have re-evaluated why I am a financial planner.  The theme that has emerged is not something that is new to me over the past 20 years.  Unfortunately my mom’s passing has showed me ‘the light’ that people need to be able to live life on purpose during their pre-retirement years and not have to wait until retirement when something as bad as cancer can take that away.

You could argue that you can live your ‘life on purpose’ with the work that you do but I think more people would agree that enjoying your life is being able to enjoy the ‘fruits of your labour’ on a regular basis during your working life and not just work your butt off day in and day out and be too exhausted to enjoy life. 

I often tell clients that if they have to work past their desired retirement date that they curse me not because we took too much investment risk (and therefore have to make up those losses) but because they can remember the days and weeks of all the activities they have enjoyed in the past.  I often get a nice smile or laugh, but I believe that if your financial plan doesn’t contribute positively to the life you live, then you may not follow a financial plan in the first place.

I am not saying that my mom and dad were not able to take trips together or enjoy other activities, but in their case, the ‘bigger cost items’ had to wait until retirement ‘if’ they could afford it. So, I challenge you to create a financial plan so that you can enjoy life today, tomorrow and into retirement.  Live life and money on purpose!

Finding passion from personal finance

Over the past year I have found a passion for cooking so I wanted to combine the passion of helping people with money and cooking chicken.  Therefore, my blog ‘Don’t be Chicken With Your Money - Be Smart’ was born.  I encourage you to connect with me and give me your thoughts and opinions on the information I present.  I have to admit that I am more ‘money’ expert than ‘cooking’ expert.

To stay with my theme of cooking chicken a dish that I recently completed was Strawberry Salsa Chicken.  As the strawberry season started (and now almost finished) here in BC, I wanted to see how I could add strawberries into the blog for the first time.  For the strawberry salsa (I didn’t add anything hot and spicy), I combined strawberries, tomatoes, lime juice, cucumber, quarter of garlic, yellow pepper (for colour) and put in a pre-heated oven @ 350F degrees for 30 minutes.  After the 30 minutes, I took a potato masher to the salsa. 

For the mashed potato side dish, I bought some sidekicks with chicken gravy and cooked them in a sauce pan on high heat on the stove after adding water, milk and butter.

For the chicken I always like to get the boneless chicken breasts from Wal-Mart for $10.  This time prior to cooking the chicken, I added an Italian coating mix to give it a sort of ‘shake and bake’ look.  In adding the strawberries, I cut each chicken breast in half and after the coating mix I added thinly sliced strawberries in the middle of each chicken breast prior to cooking. Bake at 400F degrees for approximately 50 minutes in the oven.  After everything is ready, the plate had the chicken with the taste of strawberries, mashed potatoes and strawberry salsa all ready to eat for a nice budget-minded dinner.  Just missing a nice bottle of wine!

Retirement

Searching for your nest egg?

April 7th, 2016 by ,    photos by

How to keep your basket full

 
 

This year we celebrated Easter with an Easter egg hunt at my sister’s place.  My kids and their cousins had to search for the Easter Eggs while doing an action like hopping on one foot like a bunny or acting like a Dinosaur.  The favourite egg was the ‘Golden Egg’ of which everyone had the opportunity to get one.  It was great to see them have fun and share in the egg hunt excitement.  In the end all the kids and some of us adults ‘cracked’ the eggs open and divided the chocolate inside equally.

How does this relate to financial planning?  Well, we are all searching for our nest-egg and are often distracted while working towards our desired nest-egg.

What happens if that nest-egg that you have built has a few cracks along the way and there is not enough ‘duct-tape’ in the world to hold the egg together?  How can you Protect, Accumulate, Convert and Transfer your nest-egg so that you meet your desired financial goals and objectives and are able to live the lifestyle you deserve and to pass along your assets to future generations?

I would suggest that your ability to earn an income is your most likely nest-egg builder and this is something that you need to protect as much as possible.  This is where you need to review your benefits package at work to see what happens if you were to lose the ability to earn an income for a short-time or worse over a long-term basis.  These benefits are often nice to have but not enough so you need to look to a financial planner to search out additional coverage that will compliment your work coverage but in the end meet the income replacement needs you have to be able to meet your nest-egg goals for you and your family.  This would include short-term and long-term disability coverage, life insurance, critical illness coverage and medical and dental coverage.  It is not an exciting exercise to go through but a very important one is to take a snap shot of what life would look like if you did get injured or disabled and you were not able to make the income you counted on to build your nest-egg.

You will need to find out how big your nest-egg needs to be to meet your desired lifestyle during your retirement and beyond.  This is the accumulation phase.  We just finished ‘RSP Season’ and the media does a great job making it sound like making a contribution to your RSP is your only way to retirement to use what you have built up in your nest-egg but I would argue that building your net-worth in the best possible way will have better effect than just an RSP. This accumulation doesn’t only consist of investments but other assets too such as property.  With the ongoing rise of housing prices in different parts of Canada over the past couple years you may find yourself not being able to contribute as much to your investments as you would have liked due to mortgage costs.  Another trend against you is more and more companies going away from pension plans and therefore that ‘guaranteed’ income your were hoping for to be part of your overall retirement plan.  You may be forced to ‘downsize’ during your retirement to be able to utilize some of those assets to replace the money you were not able to put away during your working years.  The sooner you plan ahead the better you will have to be able to decide ‘when’ to downsize or if you have to at all.  The questions you need to ask yourself are i) when will you retire?, ii) how long will you live?, iii) how much money can you invest during your working years?, iv) how much money will you need to live on during retirement?, v) what will your expected risk and return with your investments and other assets during your working years and during retirement?, vi) how much of your assets do you want to pass down to the next generation or contribute to a charity of your choice? This is another opportunity to work with a financial planner to help you project the numbers and different scenarios so that you can feel confident that your nest-egg will be big enough to meet your goals and objectives.  These assumptions should be updated on a regular basis to meet reality of your life situations and the economic environment of the day.

If you are close to your desired retirement age you will need to discuss with your financial planner when you will be converting your investment goals and objectives as well as risk tolerance to be able to start accessing your nest-egg.  In retirement it is important to understand the RRIF rules, access to your OAS and CPP benefits as well as other government benefits you may qualify for depending on your personal situation.  Conversion could also be applied to an insurance policy you may have that is part or your overall retirement and estate plan.  The further ahead you plan the better you will be able to take into consideration the government and tax rules at this conversion time in the future.

In my book, Financial Fotographs: How to talk to your family about money, I talk about that the transfer stage discussion (with your financial planner and family) may be the most important part of the financial planning process.  This is when you can make sure your final wishes are followed through with and your legacy is carried out the way you want.  Take a moment right now to plan to review your will and power of attorney for your health and assets.  If you don’t have a will or power of attorney make sure you get this done right away. Please!

There are different occasions throughout the year that are good reminders and maybe each year during your Easter Egg hunt you are reminded to review what your nest-egg is looking like at that time as finding that ‘Golden Egg’ is not as easy as you think.

Finding passion from personal finance

Over the past year I have found a passion for cooking so I wanted to combine the passion of helping people with money and cooking chicken.  Therefore, my blog ‘Don’t be Chicken With Your Money - Be Smart’ was born.  I encourage you to connect with me and give me your thoughts and opinions on the information I present.  I have to admit that I am more ‘money’ expert than ‘cooking’ expert.

To stay with my theme of cooking chicken a dish that I recently completed was Basil Pesto Alfredo Penne with chicken.  Bring water to boil in a cooking pot to suite your desired noodle output.  After cooking enough penne noodles I dump the water from the pot and add enough Alfredo Sauce and Pesto Penne.  If prefer more Alfredo than Pesto but you can make the decision yourself.  I like to use the Classico brand from Walmart but I have also used the Paul Newman brand before.  As for the chicken I use the boneless chicken breast from Walmart ($10 for 5 healthy servings).  Heat frying pan with a couple drops of olive oil to prevent ‘sticking’.  Cut the chicken breasts into desired pieces (smaller the better for easier frying) and add your desired herbs and spices.  Add some garlic bread and you have a very good and economical meal.

Personal Finance

What is money to you?

March 8th, 2016 by

And how much is enough?

 
 

Ever since I had my first book published I always like to pop into bookstores to see what other authors are writing in the subjects of money and financial planning.  In my last visit I picked up a book from Felix Martin, Money: The Unauthorized Biography and the very first chapter intrigued me as it asks the question: What is money?

Whether we were brought up knowing much about money or not, we learned from an early age that money buys things.  It has always been interesting talking about money with my kids, especially my young 5 year old daughter as she is always saying things like ‘one hundred billion million hundred dollars’.  They are sure going to miss out not having to know about ‘pennies’. Christmas money this past year has been a great teaching tool as my 8 year old son spent his money right away and is now trying every trick in his book to get his sister to get something for her that ‘they’ can play with.  It is just that he knows that a Mario Brother’s figure will be more useful than a Barbie.

Before money meant paper

In his book, Martin talks about the Pacific island of Yap, at the beginning of the twentieth century, and how it had a simple monetary system with fish, coconuts and sea cucumber.  But after looking further it was discovered that Yap had a developed monetary system.  The coins were not what you would expect today as they would have been a little difficult to carry around in your purse or wallet. 

The coins were ‘fei ‘, ‘large, solid, thick stone wheels ranging in diameter from a foot to twelve feet, having in the centre a hole varying in size with the diameter of the stone, wherein a pole may be inserted sufficiently large and strong to bear the weight and facilitate transportation (Martin, pg 5). 

I am sure robberies were limited. This ‘fei’ were tokens where the accounts of credit and clearing of the daily business was tracked for the people (Martin, pg 14).

I will discuss the history of money and your ‘money story’ in future blogs.

How do you define your money?

Money can be earned by you, borrowed by you and gifted to you amongst other sources of money.  Money can also be spent and invested but the definition of what money means to you can be very different to the next person.  So the question today is, What is Money to you?  I am not talking about the money that you hold in your hand, have in the bank or the balance on your credit card.  But on the other hand those numbers can define in part what money means to you. 

To most people financial planning is all about money.  Often goals that you want to have (buy a car, home, retire) all have a monetary figure attached.  But until you dig deep down and discover what money really means to you completing that financial plan may often have to be delayed.  Your definition of what money means will affect every decision that you make that has a ‘loonie’ attached to it.  How much money is enough?  Only you can answer that question.

An exercise I read about in The Energy of Money by Maria Nemeth was to take a bill and imagine the journey that it has taken from being printed to the time of you holding it in your hand. The stories that you think of will show you that money means different things to different people.

Take a moment and answer these two questions:

What does money mean to you?  (retirement, stability, something bad, something good)

How much money is enough? (to live a comfortable life, to live until you are 107, to give my family the lifestyle  they deserve or that you didn’t get to have).

Talking about money was not something that I heard much about when I was growing up.  Due to the lack of money conversations, I have made every effort to educate my kids about money from an early age.  I wanted to add my contribution to building financial literacy and that’s why I wrote my book ‘Financial Fotographs, How to talk to you family about money’. 

Finding passion from personal finance

Over the past year I have found a passion for cooking so I wanted to combine the passion of helping people with money and cooking chicken.  Therefore, my blog ‘Don’t be Chicken With Your Money - Be Smart’ was born.  I encourage you to connect with me and give me your thoughts and opinions on the information I present.  I have to admit that I am more ‘money’ expert than ‘cooking’ expert.

My recent chicken dish that I prepared I will call ‘Carrots in the River’.  It consists of garden carrots boiled in water on high heat until they are soft enough to mash if you were to try to. Another option I will try next time is steaming the carrots to keep all the juices.  I also made a side dish of simple mashed potatoes out of a Betty Crocker ready-to-make box (I know... not the healthiest). The main chicken entrée was boneless chicken breasts, cubed and cooked in a frying pan on high heat. I added ‘Classico Alfredo’ sauce to the chicken to add flavour and keep the chicken moist. I also cut up a red pepper and fried the pieces for a minute or so. Then I took a couple carrots that were boiled and cut them up to very small pieces. The chicken, red peppers, carrots and cheese were put into pre-boiled Catelli Manicotti noodles. The only trick here is to cook the noodles just enough so they are still easy to fill and don’t break in your hands. I ended off by putting some of the same alfredo sauce over the noodles along with a bit of ‘Classico basil Pesto’. Not necessarily an effort to write home about but a good tasting meal within the family budget.

Personal Finance

What a cup of coffee taught me about living from paycheck to paycheck

August 20th, 2014 by

Developing a financial plan ensures the entire family comes first

 
 

How many of you remember going out for a special dinner when you were young?

For me, it was McDonald’s each month on the Fridays that my dad was paid. Each of us always had a ‘meal deal’ before there was such a thing. My dad always made sure that our ‘meal deal' included dessert. It was a time that we all enjoyed as a family; however, I was oblivious to what my dad was holding in his hand at the end of the table. 

It was a single cup of coffee. 

If any of us would ask why he wasn’t eating, he would reply along the lines of not being hungry or that he would catch some of my mom’s great cooking at home later. Even though this happened on a regular basis, I never did question my dad about this.

Why did I choose financial planning?

At my dad’s 60th birthday party, that memory of McDonald’s coffee was brought up again. This time, my brother explained more of the story - which finalized a question I had long been searching for an answer. Up to that point in my career I was enjoying my work as a financial planner, but I wasn’t convinced about why I was a financial planner. Turns out, the story I learned about my dad rekindled a bucket list desire to write a book.

As my brother explained to us, our dad only had a cup of coffee so that he could put that small amount of extra money to something that he defined as more important. I did hear many times that "we are living from paycheck to paycheck."  To me, this meant that we didn’t have much money. We never talked about money in our family. It wasn't a taboo - it just wasn’t talked about. At the same time, each of us had what we needed in life. Every birthday and Christmas we always had more than we would ever need. I even had a new pair of soccer cleats each year for a sport that I loved to play.

Lessons from my father

I didn't grow up wanting to be a financial planner. I remember taking a test in high school that told me I was destined to have a job that was based outdoors. The only career that I was told not to pursue was cabinet making, as my dad didn’t want his kids to follow in his footsteps. That may have been the first financial lesson my dad taught me. Work towards a job that will provide what you define as important for your family. My dad worked harder than anyone else I knew, but at that time, the salary wasn’t substantial.

The second financial lesson my dad taught me was how to complete a tax return the year I received my first paycheck from of all places... McDonald’s.

When I was writing my book, Financial Fotographs: How to Talk to Your Family About Money, I often thought about the cups of coffee I drink when meeting with clients as we talk about their goals, budget and financial plan. We work together to make sure that they are able to enjoy the fruits of their labor by having their finances in order so that they don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck.

Why do I do what I do?  

Because I want everyone to have a financial plan in place so they don’t have to be someone’s dad/mom/family member only drinking a cup of coffee because they are looking after their family first and their personal needs second.

I have to say though, McDonald’s does make some great coffee...