Despite countless television ads touting the virtues of retirement planning, it seems many people are not getting the message. According to Statistics Canada, 65.2 percent of the country's 14 million households contributed to a retirement plan in 2015.
Financial advisors recommend men and women begin saving for retirement as early as possible. The longer people delay opening a retirement account, the less time their money will have to grow. Those who never open such accounts may not be able to meet their cost of living in the future.
While it pays to start saving for retirement early, late bloomers who need to catch up should know that it's never too late to start.
Start saving as much as possible. Many people contribute 6 percent of their pay to a retirement savings account. That rule of thumb may be enough for young workers, but late bloomers may need to contribute a higher percentage of their incomes if they hope to catch up. If 10 percent is doable, then contribute 10 percent, being sure to diversify how that 10 percent is invested. Workers who can afford to contribute more might want to explore other retirement account options so they avoid putting all of their eggs into one basket.
Avoid high-risk investments. Investors trying to catch up on retirement savings may be tempted to invest their money in high-risk funds with the hope of making up ground quickly. But investors typically want to reduce risk as they get older. That approach should still govern late bloomers' investing decisions, as high-risk funds that don't perform well could leave aging investors with little to nothing come retirement. Prospective investors who need help choosing the right funds for themselves should contact a financial advisor.
Cut spending. Men and women getting a late start on retirement saving should examine their monthly expenses, looking for places to cut costs so they can reallocate those funds for retirement savings. Some ways to considerably reduce monthly expenses include cutting the cord with a cable provider, driving a preowned vehicle instead of a new model and downsizing to a smaller home.
Men and women who have delayed saving for retirement should not panic. While it's always best to begin saving for retirement as early as possible, there are ways for late bloomers to catch up and/or create a decent-sized nest egg for their golden years.
Because fashion preferences were once ornate and dependent on precise fits, ready-to-wear clothing really did not become widely available until the early 20th century. Such attire is now available in just about any retail store.
Because ready-to-wear clothing is so readily available, the average person may be unfamiliar with custom-made or tailored items. In fact, a couples' wedding may be the only instance in their lives when they require the services of a seamstress or tailor.
Fittings are a part of wedding planning, and here's how brides-to-be can navigate the process of finding and being fitted for a dress.
Try on sample gowns. The first step is to make your rounds to various gown shops and try on the samples they have available. Most sample sizes will not be the size you wear every day, so expect them to be ill-fitting. Do not be discouraged. Once a gown is chosen, the dress shop will take your measurements and order the gown according to the manufacturer's sizing guide. Again, this can be shocking, since the size will likely be larger than what you wear in street clothes. Some shops will also order a little larger to allow for adequate tailoring.
Schedule the first fitting. The first fitting should be anywhere from eight to 12 weeks before the wedding date, according to experts at WeddingWire, an online wedding information provider. This is the time it takes to complete most standard alterations. Complex customizations can take even longer. Brides should also budget a minimum of $500 for alterations, which may or may not be included in the price of the dress.
Bring shoes and undergarments. Remember to bring along the exact shoes and undergarments you will wear with your gown. A change in shoes or bra/corset can result in the alterations fitting poorly the next time. Bring these items along to all subsequent fittings.
Speak up. Martha Stewart Weddings suggests speaking up at fittings if anything is uncomfortable or needs tweaking. Seamstresses are masters at their crafts, but only if they understand the desires of the bride.
Check the details. The second fitting is designed to check that all issues from the first fitting have been addressed, the gown is comfortable and you can move freely. At the last fitting, ask the maid of honour to come along so that she understands how to bustle or help you handle complicated straps or closures.
Open communication with a seamstress and bridal shop can ensure brides-to-be get a dress that fits like a glove.
Many people donate to nonprofit organizations and other philanthropic groups out of a personal desire to do good for others. Such charitable giving can improve the lives of others and may make donors eligible for tax deductions.
The Canada Revenue Agency lists registered charities, registered low-cost housing corporations, national arts service organizations, registered Canadian amateur athletic associations, and some educational universities among the organizations that may qualify donors for tax deductions.
Canadian individuals and businesses generally can claim deductions and gifts of up to 75 percent of net income.
Giving can constitute cash and non-cash donations, advises the charity watchdog organization Charity Navigator. For example, deductions for donations of clothing and household items that are in "good condition or better" may qualify donors for tax deductions. Donors are advised to bring items to reputable charities that will issue a receipt for their value. An appraisal may be requested for more expensive items.
All donations require a paper trail and proof of charitable contribution. The Government of Canada states that official donation receipts from registered charities and other qualified organizations should be kept in a safe place. While these receipts need not be submitted at the time of filing (whether on paper returns or electronic filings), they should be kept for five years in the event they are subjected to review.
Timing donations properly is key.
A tax treaty between the United States and Canada allows for some deduction of donations made to charities across the border. Again, it is best to consult with a tax professional in these matters as some contributions to foreign organizations are not deductible.
Charitable giving has many benefits, including feeling good about oneself, helping the less fortunate and the financial reward of qualifying for some tax breaks.
Investing has always been a means for people to grow their wealth and make their money work for them. Investors know that protecting investment earnings is important, and that often can be achieved through tax-advantaged investments.
Tax-advantaged investing, also called tax-efficient investing, allows investors to maximize the profits they can keep after taxes are filed. Investment selection and asset allocation are important factors affecting returns, but minimizing taxes and other costs is also crucial, according to the Schwab Center for Financial Research.
There are some ways for investors to keep more of their assets. A qualified financial advisor can help navigate the waters of the best tax-advantaged options. When investing on an annual basis, there are some general accounts people can use to their advantages.
Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA): Canadian investors can explore TFSAs. These are accounts that do not tax any contributions, interest earned, dividends, or capital gains, and can be withdrawn tax-free. It is available to individuals ages 18 and older in Canada and can be used for any purpose.
· College savings accounts: Investing in a RESP plan can be wise for parents.
Working with a financial planner can help investors maximize their investments to be as tax-efficient as possible. Financial experts understand funding limits and the timeline in which to invest for tax advantages.
Many couples preparing for their trip down the aisle follow the familiar sentiments expressed by Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz." Such couples feel "there's no place like home", when hosting a wedding ceremony or reception.
There are many benefits to hosting a wedding at home. Homes often hold couples' most cherished memories, and hosting a backyard celebration, or an intimate indoor ceremony at your own home, or the abode of a loved one, can be a cost-effective way to have a good time.
Here are some tips to help couples navigate hosting an at-home wedding.
Assess the space. The average home is not equipped to handle hundreds of guests, wait staff, caterers, and parked cars. Concessions, in regard to comfort and safety, will have to be made when drawing up the guest list. The wedding resource, The Knot advises the general rule is 6 to 10 square-feet of floor space per guest for row seating. You'll need even more space for buffet tables, seating and a dance floor.
You will likely need to temporarily move furniture to comfortably fit everyone indoors; or rent a large enough tent for a backyard wedding.
Hire a cleaning service. It's important to present a clean, inviting space when hosting a wedding at home. A cleaning service will conduct a thorough cleaning before and after the festivities, freeing up your time for last-minute tasks or to embark on your honeymoon.
Book an officiant early. Confirm with an officiant that they can oversee the wedding proceedings at your home. Many religious officials are not able to perform ceremonies outside of a place of worship.
Learn if it's legal. Certain municipalities may require permits for parking on street, noise past a certain hour, closing of streets, and much more. Do your research. You may need to coordinate parking at a nearby lot (like a school closed on the weekend) and shuttle people to your home.
Consult with an insurance carrier. Inquire if having such a large party at home is covered by your homeowner's insurance policy, particularly if your home is damaged or someone gets injured during the festivities. Supplemental liability insurance or an umbrella policy may offer greater protection.
Weddings at home can be a unique opportunity for couples who love the comfort and familiarity of their homes.
Marriage proposals inside restaurants are popular ways to pop the question. Many couples find proposing over a candlelit meal is a romantic way to get engaged, providing a perfect setting to begin a life together.
Even though restaurant proposals have been popularized by television sitcoms and movies on the big screen, those taking this route should do some homework before sitting down to eat. As with all components of wedding planning, it's essential to get the proposal right, to create lasting, positive memories.
DO choose a place with the right ambience. If you do not have a favourite restaurant in mind, go online and do some research for picturesque or romantic establishments. Many online reviews now include images, which can help you find the right setting.
DO make a reservation. An engagement should not be left to chance. Call ahead and speak with a manager and mention you will be orchestrating a proposal. Find out if the restaurant will help you make it extra special. Some may decorate your table with favourite flowers or provide a specific champagne once the proposal has been accepted.
DON'T propose at the beginning of the meal. Set the scene with conversation and start to enjoy as much of the food as possible. Take time to enjoy the service, food and beverages. Some appetizers and, if you imbibe, a little wine in your stomach can ease pre-proposal jitters. If you don't alcohol DO try, a little sparkling grape juice; or, one of the other many non-alcoholic high-end beverages can help accessorize the ambience, as well.
DON'T forget the ring. The ring is its own spectacle, but there are ways to present it in an even more glorious light. Plan ahead, for instance; so the ring is tied to an exquisite tea cup brought out during dessert service, or, if you're worried about putting the ring in the hands of others, bring along a hand-painted plate that asks "Will You Marry Me?" The wait staff can cover the question with the entreé or a dessert. As your partner eats, the message will become clear.
DO expect a scene. Proposing marriage in a restaurant is bound to cause a big reaction, tears included. If you're not comfortable with public displays, you may want to reconsider popping the question in such a public setting.
DO consider a weeknight. Restaurants are less busy on weeknights than weekends, so you can expect a more intimate setting, Monday through Thursday, than you might find Friday through Sunday.
Restaurant proposals are traditional, and there are various ways to make them just right.
Recently engaged couples may be excited to get a jump on wedding planning. Bridal shows can be a great way for couples to meet and familiarize themselves with local wedding professionals, all the while introducing themselves to the terminology of wedding planning.
Though they're a great source of information, contacts and samples, bridal shows also can be a bit overwhelming. Learning how to maximize time spent at shows can help couples plan their weddings as efficiently as possible.
Start small. If the idea of large crowds is unappealing, attend the more intimate, boutique shows, often held at local reception halls and restaurants, instead of the larger installations at convention centres and hotels.
Scout out vendors. Check the bridal show's website for lists of exhibitors and see if your desired vendors are on the list. But even if they're not, keep an open mind and use the show as a chance to compare offerings. If an event map is available, marking off must-visit booths can help save time.
Pre-register. Pre-registering for bridal events saves time at check-in, and doing so may make you eligible for discounted tickets.
Come prepared. Chances are each vendor is going to ask couples for information so they can follow up with a phone call or email with more detailed offerings and estimates. Couples attending the show can expedite the process by coming equipped with labels featuring their names, contact information and wedding date. They can then stick the labels on sign-in sheets or use them like business cards.
Dress comfortably. Bridal expos involve a lot of walking and roaming around. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Consider a backpack or hands-free bag, so you are not weighed down when collecting the swag and other handouts throughout the day.
Ask questions. When face-to-face with vendors, rely on their expertise but don't hesitate to ask questions concerning themes, colours, recommendations for honeymoon locations, invitation paper suggestions, and much more.
Stay for the fashion show. Many shows will offer a runway experience, to present the latest gown and tuxedo offerings. This can be an entertaining way for couples to formulate their wedding styles.
Wedding shows introduce couples to vendors and set them on the path to making decisions regarding the planning of their weddings.
Health Department launches free, in-school vision screening program for senior kindergarten students
DURHAM: Durham Region Health Department is excited to announce that as of January 2019, free, in-school vision screening for senior kindergarten students will be provided through the Health Department’s vision screening program.
Research from McMaster University and The Hospital for Sick Children conducted annually, indicates that as many as one in four Ontario school-aged children experience difficulties related to vision that can affect their learning and development, and 15,000 children have trouble learning to read just because they need glasses.
“Vision plays an important role in the learning process for all ages and we are particularly excited about implementing this program with children in senior kindergarten,” said Christine Gianoutsos, a public health nurse with the Health Department. “It’s an opportunity to identify and correct vision problems early to support student success in school.”
The Health Department’s school vision screening procedure is conducted by public health nurses who perform a series of non-invasive screening tests. The process is quick, easy and poses no risk to students. If parents wish to have their senior kindergarten child excluded from their school vision screening day, please call Durham Region Health Department at 905-668-7711, ext. 2216 or 1-800-372-1102.
It is important to note that the vision screening program does not replace an appointment with an optometrist and it is recommended that families follow-up with an optometrist for their child’s complete eye exam. The Ontario Association of Optometrists recommends that children have their first eye exam at six-months old, then another between the ages of two and three, followed with annual appointments thereafter. The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) covers yearly comprehensive eye exams by an optometrist for children under the age of 19.
For more information on school vision screening, contact Durham Health Connection Line at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729, or visit durham.ca/schools.
Heart disease is a formidable foe. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease accounts for nearly 25 percent of all deaths in the United States each year.
Issues relating to the heart affect both men and women, and an estimated 15 million adults in the U.S. have coronary heart disease, the most common type of heart disease. And heart disease is not exclusive to the United States, as the Heart Research Institute says that every seven minutes in Canada someone dies from heart disease or stroke.
Such statistics are disconcerting, but they can serve as a wake-up call that compels people to prioritize heart health. Fortunately, heart disease is often preventable and people can employ various strategies to reduce their risk.
Stop smoking right now. One of the best things to do to protect the heart is to stop smoking. The Heart Foundation indicates that smoking reduces oxygen in the blood and damages blood vessel walls. It also contributes to atherosclerosis, or a narrowing and clogging of the arteries.
Eat healthy fats. When eating, choose polyunsaturated and unsaturated fats and avoid trans fats as much as possible. Trans fats increase one's risk of developing heart disease by clogging arteries and raising LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Read food labels before buying anything at the store.
Keep your mouth clean. Studies show that bacteria in the mouth involved in the development of gum disease can travel to the bloodstream and cause an elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for blood vessel inflammation. Brush and floss twice daily, and be sure to schedule routine dental cleanings.
Get adequate shut-eye. Ensuring adequate sleep can improve heart health. One study found that young and middle-age adults who regularly slept seven hours a night had less calcium in their arteries (a sign of early heart disease) compared to those who slept five hours or less or those who slept nine hours or more.
Adopt healthy eating habits. Changes to diet, including eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, can help you lose and maintain a healthy weight, improve cholesterol levels and reduce blood pressure - leading to a healthier heart.
Embrace physical activity. Regular moderate exercise is great for the heart. It can occur at the gym, playing with the kids or even taking the stairs at work.
A healthy heart begins with daily habits that promote long-term heart health.