Monthly Archives: March 2013

Want some advice? Don’t take any.

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Ever been at a crossroads, not knowing what to do? A tough interview, after a mediocre first date, or a weekend away with friends when you know you probably might not be able to afford? Or how often have you rationalized that you don’t want to invest with someone because you don’t trust them, but do nothing in the alternative, and remain as broke as ever because you are focused on someone’s personality, as opposed to your saving, as you should be.

 

A typical course of action is too over-rely on your mentor, order 2 martini’s and solicit advice from your girlfriends (of whom has never met the person on question they are giving you advice on) or stress about it to the trip organizer (who is always biased towards you going, hence being the organizer) and leads you to the standard, what they think as opposed to the actual proper course of action.

 

Too often we rely on what others say, or don’t say as opposed to relying on our own gut feeling. And while listening to others is much easier and in the end safer, it fails to bring the satisfaction of knowing you are acting on your instincts alone, and are prepared for the consequences and rewards of your decisions. The absence of responsibility as left people in a bit of a bubble. No one wants to take a risk, no one wants to get hurt. We choose the painless option, more often than not. Someone failed to tell all of us that there is no pain-free route of life. Because we have feelings, we will get hurt, and that’s okay. We will fail, but at least they will be our own failures, and we can take responsibility for it. Experience, after all, is life’s greatest teacher. And from there we can individually get better, more comfortable in our own decisions. This will allow us to make our own objectives easier, become planners and work towards something, whether it is affording the next weekend away or affording your retirement — and the ability to make (and adjust) your own goals yourself .

What are some of your own financial goals? How have you had to adjust theses goals in your own lives?

It’s that time of the year again …

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Slide1It’s time to file your taxes. You’ve been pinning numerical boxed-papers to your fridge for the past month, waiting for RRSP slips, T4’s, donation receipts, investment mumble-jumble that your not sure is related but leaving it for someone else to interpret later, eligible expenses (are my receipts for contact solution from Shopper’s worth saving?, your bus passes and a sampling of random other papers. The pile now requires 8 magnets and 3 sub-piles and still forms seem to be hitting the floor daily. You know you’ve received all the forms you need, and are ready to take the next step for filing, but what next step should you take?

A few years ago, when I took over my filing from my parents (my parents filed for me until I graduated university, lucky me), I used my dad’s accountant the first year. My mom uses PWC, and her tax specialist probably was beyond what I thought my simple return should be. I was reassessed (something about ineligible deductions), and never ever met the accountant face to face, while facing premium rates. I decided the cost was not worth the hassle, and was kind of annoyed at the reassessment, and having to pay more mid-summer. The next year I actually went to the post office (remember those?) and picked up one of those green books, figuring it couldn’t be that hard. While the boxes are all numbered and in theory it shouldn’t be difficult, I became frustrated, did not get the correct numbers, and took my forms over to H&R block. That was my first experience with H&R block (I’ve used it one other year) and while I like the price in relation to what else is out there, I didn’t think the price matched the lack of service, advice or questions I thought were needed by an accountant to properly file a return. Another year I had my bookkeeper offer to do my return for free (which I accepted, of course) and I’ve also mulled over Turbo-Tax, however I would ultimately like to end up with an accountant I admire, trust, is accessible, says what he is going to do in the timeframe established in the onset, and is transparent. Perhaps because I am not an accountant, however when I see you entering numbers into a return for my Canadian taxes, and then telling me you won’t have my US taxes done for 2 weeks and don’t say why, I’m going to wonder how on earth 1 return could possibly take that long, and mark it as incompetence on your part. My issue though is not in determining the type of accountant I want, but actually finding that accountant in Toronto. Whenever I Google for accountants, the focus seems to be on corporate filing, and I have yet to discover local-H&R type of setting (with a focus on personal returns) in a proper accountant setting. Am I missing the ‘find-an accountant’ webpage?

A brief survey conducted through my @financeyourlife Twitter account found that accountants recommend you ask your family and friends for suggestions for accountants if you are in the search, and local firm Crowe Soberman suggests looking for an accountant who is dependable, capable and of a good character.

All well and good, however accountants still generally only meet with you when you are actually filing – so does this mean I’m going to have to go through one a year with the hopes of eventually finding an accountant I’m comfortable with?

Share your stories – good or otherwise here: How did you find your accountant? Have you referred your to others? What strengths are important in accountant or professional service provider in general to you?

New Poll!

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Based on the task force for financial literacy, one of the core five points that Canadians struggle with when it comes to personal finances is planning ahead. This perhaps is because people don’t really know where to start when it comes to managing their finances, and who to turn to for advice. What would you consider actually doing to help learn better tools to financial literacy that personal money management that would actually change your behaviours? Would you take a course on money and planning?