Golden Girl Finance
Rhonda Sherwood
Posts (19)

Ask the Expert

Q&A: How much money should we save up before seeking out an advisor?

February 1st, 2013 by

Q: I am a 29-year-old who is (finally) starting to think about savings and investments and I have no idea where to start. My partner and I are starting to make a salary above $100K (total) and all our debts have recently been paid off. We are starting with very little in the bank ($10,000) and don't own anything (no house, no car). We have the means to start saving every month as we have lower expenditures than income. Financial advisors seem to cost quite a bit of money, so I was wondering how much money we should save up before starting to pay for the services of a professional?

Asked by Kat, Edmonton, AB


The first step would be to discuss with your partner why you want to be saving. Or what you are saving for... 

  • A  home?
  • To start a family?
  • Travel?
  • Lifestyle?
  • Retirement?

Also, what financial goals do you have and what is the time frame you realistically would like to achieve these goals?

Once you have a good picture of what you are saving for, I would then suggest meeting with a financial planner who can create a road map with respect to how to achieve your goals. Yes, this costs money but good advice isn’t free. A good and realistic financial plan is priceless.

Regardless of how much savings you have to date, invest in your financial future with a well-built plan.

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Q&A: Should I cash in my RRSPs early?

January 17th, 2013 by

Q: Should I start cashing in my RRSPs before I reach 71 since my income will be much greater than it is now?  I am 67 and my husband is 85 and it is quite possible that he will pass on before I will and therefore, it will no longer be possible to apply income splitting.

Asked by NLP


I usually advise my clients to start taking from their registered funds when they need the monies and/or when it may make sense tax wise.

If you're in a lower tax bracket today than you will be in the future, it might make sense. However, I would definitely advise that you speak with your financial advisor before making any withdrawals.  He or she will understand your unique situation and needs and be able to advise accordingly.


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Q&A: Finding an expert in women's banking issues

January 16th, 2013 by

Q: I am 60 years old and newly divorced. All of my investments are tied up in mutual funds and TFSAs. I am a renter, have no debt and only make minimum wage. I am unsure as to how long I can go on working due to health issues. I understand that mutual funds are a long term investment, but I may not be around for the long term and am struggling financially now. I am concerned that the fund managers are taking a good chunk of my money and that is money that could be put to better use. I also fear potential future government clawbacks on pensions due to my investments. I know absolutely nothing about stock market investing, but I understand that it pays dividends. Is there an institution that deals primarily with women's banking issues that can better guide me to a more satisfying investment strategy?

Asked by Anonymous, Sudbury, ON


You definitely need to meet with a financial advisor before making any moves with your investment portfolio.

What I would recommend is asking a few women friends or family members who they use as a financial advisor. A recommendation is always best.

I would then meet with two or three and come with a list of questions to gage who will best meet your needs.


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Q&A: Building up cash for a shortfall in retirement income

December 19th, 2012 by

Q: I'm retiring in July 2013 and trying to build up cash for a 6 month shortfall until withdrawing from my RRIF in January 2014. Should I collect my company pension a few months earlier to accumulate more savings? The pension pays for life and to collect earlier would reduce the monthly amount by $6/month.

Asked by Anonymous, Vancouver, BC

I would highly recommend sitting down with a financial advisor who can help with retirement income projections and advise how best to pull the income you need and from what sources.

The short answer is this: If you don’t have the money to cover your basic costs in the first 6 months of retirement, or if your CPP/OAS are not enough, then yes taking an early pension may be an answer. You can also make RRSP/RRIF withdrawals before age 71. I would advise speaking with a professional before making any decisions.

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Q&A: Questioning the advice of a financial planner - what to do?

November 7th, 2012 by

I retired a year ago, and sold my house 2 years ago. I am now renting while I live near my granddaughter. On the advice of my financial planner, 60% of the proceeds from the house sale are in segregated funds, which mature in 5 years. I was not informed (did not realize) that the funds are back-end loaded so making changes now will be expensive. I also did not realize that my advisor received a 5% commission. I'm feeling that her recommendations for the remainder of my portfolio are always losing propositions. I'm in the process of interviewing other advisors, who are dismayed at my plan, but feel there is not much to be done except wait out the penalties. Meanwhile, I feel I am on a tight budget now while in the youth of my retirement while I wait for higher income once I am older. I would be very interested in your advice.

Asked by Anonymous, retired, Victoria, BC


Did your financial advisor do a financial plan for you? If not, on what basis did they make their investment recommendations? Your asset mix should be determined by your age, stage in life, how soon you’ll need the money, your investment objectives, and your financial goals. Also, how well you tolerate volatility and risk. I might suggest going back to your advisor and asking more specifically the basis of her recommendations. If you’re uncomfortable or are not getting the answers you are looking for, finding a new advisor might be the next step.

If you do decide to look for a new advisor, I highly suggest interviewing a few. Ask for their processes, if they offer financial planning, how their fee structure works and for recommendations from existing clients.

The new advisor should be able to transfer ‘in-kind’ your segregated funds (if they are insurance licensed) and hold until the deferred sales charges mature. They can also help ensure the funds you are holding in your segregated portfolio are appropriate for where you are in life. If not, they can make switches within the same fund family without triggering penalties.