Where You Seek Financial Advice Says a Lot About You

How did you decide where to open your first bank account? Where did you learn to budget or pay bills? If you have a money question now, what do you do? Who do you turn to?

If you’re under the age of 30, your answers to the above questions are likely some combination of “my parents”, “the Internet” and “I don’t know—I just kind of figured it out”. Although you might have been lucky enough to take life skills classes in high school, most young adults don’t receive any kind of formal financial education. So, it’s likely that you’ll need to seek guidance when it comes to money management.

That guidance can come from any combination of sources: family, friends, apps, blogs, classes, forums, financial institutions, articles, books—the list goes on. No source is inherently better than the others, as long as it empowers you financially. But the reality is that when it comes to getting financial advice, most of us have a comfort zone or a pattern we fall into: we ask mom and dad because that’s how we’ve always done it, or we start with an online search because we’re not comfortable with asking someone for help. Your default information sources say a lot about you and your values, and even though each source has good things going for it, it’s important to keep an open mind. Your financial health can always benefit from including new sources of advice.

Advice Source: Parents and Family Members

What it says about you: Responsibility is important to you, and you believe that big decisions should only be shared with people you absolutely trust.

Why it’s great: Recent studies have found that 49% of Millennials turn to their parents for financial advice. It’s not hard to see why—family members have a trust factor that just can’t be rivaled by any financial institution. They’ve known you literally forever and they truly have your best interests at heart. They’re familiar and accessible and, since they’ve guided you through most aspects of life, it makes sense that they guide you through your finances too.

Where it’s lacking: No two families are alike. In some households, money is talked about casually and in others the topic is totally taboo. Some parents are fully involved in teaching their children about money; others get stressed out even thinking about it. Parents are an excellent resource if they’re money-savvy and if they’re comfortable talking to you about finances. If that’s not the case, then you might want to look for other sources of financial information before consulting with mom and dad.

Advice Source: Financial Advisor or Financial Planner

What it says about you: You value expertise in decision-making, and you’re not afraid to ask for help from a professional.

Why it’s great: Whether you consult with an advisor at your financial institution or hire an advisor independently, it’s hard to top the results you get from working with a dedicated professional. Having an expert assess your financial situation and design a plan for you is an extremely powerful tool because they can recommend products, services and strategies that you might never have come across on your own.

Where it’s lacking: Many young adults shy away from this advice source. One possible reason is because, as helpful as a financial advisor can be, reaching out to one can be intimidating if you’re used to your finances being a very private matter. Maybe you feel embarrassed about your current level of financial understanding, or maybe you’re not used to talking about money. Using some other sources on this list to gather information before meeting with a planner can help you feel in control and better prepared.

Advice Source: Personal Finance Blogs/Online Forums

What it says about you: You value privacy when it comes to your finances, and you know that research is critical before making any important decisions.

Why it’s great: It’s fast, it’s specific and it’s private—the Internet is great for financial guidance. Some helpful online resources include your credit union’s website, personal finance blogs geared toward your life stage, personal finance sections on news sites, and FAQ sections or forums on popular financial websites.

Where it’s lacking: As with all online content, you need to have a critical eye when gathering data. Who’s the author of the content? What’s their motivation? Is this review biased? Is that research trustworthy? When you use the Internet as your go-to information source, it’s up to you to sift through all the sites and articles to find the content that’s most relevant to you. Getting a second opinion (or better yet, a professional opinion) on a topic you’ve been researching is a great way to get more comprehensive advice.

Advice Source: Friends and Peers

What it says about you: Maintaining the status quo is important to you. You feel most confident with decisions that align with what others are doing.

Why it’s great: Friends and other peers can be a good place to get financial advice— they’re typically in the same age range, they may be facing some of the same financial challenges or situations as you, and they might be easier to talk to than your family. They’re believable role models and can serve as good examples of what certain products, services or financial habits look like in practice.

Where it’s lacking: Even the closest of friends can have dramatically different financial backgrounds. When you go to your friends for financial advice, it’s very easy to compare yourself to them; in some cases, that can do more harm than good. Everyone has a unique set of financial priorities and circumstances. Getting general financial advice from your friends is great, but when it comes to more specific advice, look elsewhere.

Advice Source: Apps

What it says about you: You value efficiency and are always looking for ways to improve and upgrade daily tasks.

Why it’s great: Personal finance apps are wonderful resources because they’re often better at slotting into our busy schedules than some of the more traditional approaches to learning about personal finance. Why bother researching different budgeting systems when a comprehensive budgeting app is just a 99-cent-download away? Convenient and well-designed apps that fill a real need can actually lead you to pay more attention to how you manage your money.

Where it’s lacking: Personal finance apps are usually geared more towards actions than they are to education. They’re a great way to check an account balance on the fly or to set up a budget, but they don’t always provide the education that goes along with those tools. Apps are awesome tools that tend to work best when combined with a broader understanding of financial topics.

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Also consider how your credit union can help you further your financial knowledge. If you were to draw a diagram of your financial advice sources, your credit union would sit quite comfortably in the middle. It may not be related to you, but your credit union does have your best interests in mind as a member-owner. Your credit union can also provide you with current, professional advice and can give you access to all sorts of additional resources—both online and in person. It’s worth checking out, especially if your current combination of financial resources isn’t quite making the cut.

All About Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs)

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Are you …

  • Receiving the Disability Tax Credit?
  • Less than 50 years old?
  • A Canadian resident?

You could be eligible to receive up to $4500 annually in government grants and bonds.

Join Randall Smisko of First Wealth Management for an informative evening presentation on everything about RDSPs.

The RDSP is a Canada-wide registered savings plan for people with disabilities, and is designed to help people living with a disability and their families save for the future.

Wednesday November 23, 2016
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Powell River Recreation Complex

To register, contact the Powell River Recreation Complex at 604-485-2891

To Lease or To Finance: That is the Question!

When it comes to buying a new car, you have three options: purchasing it with cash, purchasing it through a loan (also known as financing) or leasing it. For most shoppers, the decision comes down to buying or leasing.

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On the surface, the differences between leasing and buying a vehicle seem fairly straightforward. Leasing a car means you’ll usually have access to a new set of wheels every few years; buying it likely means that you plan to drive the same car for a much longer period of time. Leasing usually includes a warranty that covers most of your repairs; buying means accepting larger repair costs, which are inevitable as the car ages. Leasing agreements can limit your mileage and your ability to customize your ride; buying means you can put as many kilometres as you want on the car and customize it however you’d like.

Looking only at the comparisons above, you might conclude that buying a car is a more practical and economical option than leasing a car—but if that’s really the case, why are monthly lease payments so much lower (often 40% lower!) than monthly loan payments? Why is leasing considered more expensive in the long term if you’re paying less on a month-to-month basis? To answer these questions, let’s take a look at the concept of depreciation.

Depreciation means a loss of value over time. New cars are a textbook example—you’ve likely heard that a car loses thousands of dollars in value the moment you drive it off the lot. That’s accurate, and that’s depreciation at work (and yes, it can be kind of depressing).

All cars depreciate in value over time, but the steepest drop happens in the first three to five years, as you can see below:

  • Brand new to 5 years old—the car depreciates by 15% to 20% of its value each year
  • From 5 years to 10 years—the rate of depreciation slows slightly to 10% to 15% of its value each year
  • 10+ years—the rate of depreciation tends to level out to less than 5% a year. By this time, the car is usually worth less than one-fifth of its retail price!

Depreciation takes its toll on the value of every vehicle. However, your decision to lease or buy will have an effect on how that depreciation influences your finances.

When you finance a car, you own it once you pay off the loan. This means that you personally take the hit on its depreciation, but it also means you also “own” its residual value. Although that value depreciates over time, if there comes a time when you’re ready to sell it or trade it in, you get the benefit of that resale or trade-in value.

By contrast, when you lease a car, you never actually own it. The company that leases the car to you is responsible for selling the car once you’ve completed your lease term. The leasing company also ultimately deals with the car’s depreciation in value. You get to drive a brand new car without needing to think about its loss in value. That sounds pretty great, right? In reality, even though the leasing company deals with the eventual sale of the car, you’re the one who makes up for its loss in value through your monthly payments. That payment includes an estimate of how much the car will depreciate by the time your term is up. Monthly payments are lower because you’re not paying for the entire car—you’re just paying for how much the car will depreciate in those few years that you’re driving it (a period of time when, coincidentally, the car depreciates the most).

When you finance a car, the monthly payments are higher because you are paying for the entire car, plus interest on the loan. When you pay the loan back, your monthly payments stop (unlike leasing payments, which continue as long as you’re still leasing) and even though your car will have depreciated in value by that point, you will own the remaining value.

As with any major financial decision, there are also other factors that come into play. You need to be realistic about your budget and honest about your lifestyle, and you need to figure out what’s most important to you as a new car owner. How comfortable are you with the limitations set by a lease agreement? How prepared are you to pay for eventual car repairs? Will driving a new car every two to three years be worth thousands of dollars more in the long run? To some people, it might be—it all depends on a combination of your personal needs and preferences.