2017 financial checklist

January 12, 2017

To better position yourself for financial success in 2017 and beyond, we’re providing a checklist of our top 5 essential action items to schedule in your calendar.

1. Automate contributions to your registered accounts
Rather than scrambling to contribute to your Registered Retirement Savings Program (RRSP) by the contribution deadline (which is March 1, 2017 for the 2016 tax year), consider setting up regular automated contributions instead (e.g., bi-weekly, monthly, etc.). This can help maximize your savings by:

  • Eliminating the risk of not having a lump-sum amount available or missing the deadline altogether.
  • Giving your money more time to grow by adding funds throughout the year.
  • Minimizing the impact of market fluctuations to your portfolio by making regular contributions over time.

Also consider making automated contributions to your Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) and Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) as well.

2. Review your investment portfolio

Whether you’re saving for retirement, a home, your children’s education or a major trip abroad, your priorities and circumstances may change periodically. That’s why it’s vital to review your investment portfolio, at least once a year, with your financial advisor to ensure you’re staying on course.

Among the most important matters to review, be sure that your investment asset mix continues to meet your personal goals and comfort with risk. Your financial advisor will execute any necessary portfolio changes as a result of your needs and market performance.

3. Start tax planning early

Investors often miss out on a number of tax-reduction opportunities because they wait closer to the April 30th income tax-filing deadline to begin tax planning. There are other important tax-related deadlines throughout the year to consider.

Tax-loss selling, for example, involves selling investments that have declined in value to generate a capital loss. This, in turn, helps offset taxable capital gains that you may have earned during the year by selling investments at a profit. You have until late December to sell a security (e.g., in 2017 it’s December 22), but consult with your financial advisor well in advance to ensure you take full advantage.

4. Review or start your estate plan

It’s important to conduct a basic assessment of your estate plan every year. Doing so will provide you with peace of mind and takes into account yearly changes in the tax code. A review is especially important if circumstances change regarding your executor, trustee or guardian, or if a critical event in your life has occurred.

If you haven’t started to develop your estate plan, creating a will is a good starting point. Your financial advisor can help you with the process and refer you to tax and legal experts. For more information, view Estate planning series – The basics.

5. Start building an emergency fund

Unexpected expenses or critical life events can have a detrimental impact on your finances. Insurance can help for certain emergencies; however, setting money aside in an emergency fund can help weather a storm and minimize reliance on credit cards and loans. This year, set a date to begin creating an emergency fund by committing to accumulate at least three to five months of living expenses. It may seem overwhelming but it’s certainly achievable by budgeting an amount every month.   

Checklist: Things to Do

Automate contributions to registered accounts

Review investment portfolio

Get into the habit of tax planning

Review or start an estate plan

Build an emergency fund

For more information on fulfilling any or all of these top-5 financial tasks, contact your financial advisor. Don’t have a financial advisor? Before you start your search, read about finding the right advisor for you.

The contents of this Web site are provided for informational and educational purposes, and are not intended to provide specific individual advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, legal, accounting or tax. Please consult with your own professional advisor on your particular circumstances.

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