The times they are a changing! Check out these present-day financial hurdles that your grandparents never had to deal with:
#1 CREDIT CARD DEBT: “CHARGE IT!”
Credit cards are so much a part of our daily lives that it’s hard to imagine a time when they weren’t around. The first credit card was introduced in 1966. Today, virtually everyone has one. They make our lives easier. But it’s also easy to embrace the ‘credit and forget it’ mentality. And that can quickly lead to a snow-bank-sized mountain of debt!
Solution: Stop spending with borrowed money and make a plan to pay down a certain amount of your debt each month. Since credit cards typically have a high rate of interest, another smart strategy is to consolidate your debts at a lower rate under a line of credit. Why pay more interest than you have to, right?
#2 IDENTITY THEFT: “WAIT – YOU’RE ME?”
Life was simpler when you didn’t have to worry about someone stealing your very identity. These days we all have to be more careful. Through everything from dumpster diving and mail theft, to hacking and phishing, nefarious ne’er-do-wells will try to steal your personal data. And once they have it, they can try to pretend they’re you — access bank accounts, open new accounts in your name, apply for loans, make purchases, receive your benefits and more.
Solution: Shred any bills and documents that contain personal information before throwing them out. Be careful what you share online. And beware of any unsolicited calls or emails. If you’re a victim of identity theft, it can result in a financial loss, difficulty obtaining credit and trouble restoring your ‘good name’ so it’s important to report it to police immediately.
#3 EDUCATION COSTS: “SORRY – HOW MUCH ARE THOSE BOOKS?”
While post-secondary education has never been free in Canada, it’s more expensive than ever and is outpacing inflation by a staggering rate. The result? Student debt and lots of it. In fact, the average student debt in Canada is over $25,000. It can be a big problem and delay your ability to buy a home or car, save for retirement and even start a family. However, by most accounts, it’s still worth it because it gives your earning power a boost.
Solution: Start saving early! For the parents out there, start a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for your kid(s). With RESPs, contributions are taxed at the contributor's tax rate, while the investment growth is taxed on withdrawal at the recipient's tax rate. And for the student out there, it's important to consider what kind of job you’re going to have when you gr aduate and how long it will take to pay off your debt.
SAVING FOR RETIREMENT: “BACK IN MY DAY, WE GOT A GOLD WATCH!”
Fifty years ago, people often had one job and worked at the same company their whole lives. Upon retiring, they’d receive a cushy pension and — if they were a lucky — a shiny, gold watch. At least that’s what my parents tell me. Today, only about 30% of retirees have any kind of pension. That’s right, now it’s up to us to save for retirement. And because it seems so far away, people often don’t start until it’s too late.
Solution: Save, save, save! One of the most popular ways to save is through a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). RRSPs are tax-differed investment accounts that allow you to save taxes now while your income bracket is higher and pay them later, ideally in retirement, when you’re in a lower income bracket.
Can you think of a current-day money problem that didn’t exist 50 years ago that isn’t listed in the article above?
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About the Author
Deborah Robertson has been in the Financial Services in dustry for over 20 years and has worked with some of the most notable financial institutions in Canada. Her career has been focused on Personal Financial Planning to help her customers/members realize their personal financial goals, whatever they might be.