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Financial planning tips

January 18, 2016

Are you leaving money on the table?

Chances are you’re leaving good cash behind if you’re not taking advantage of such options as your employer’s retirement savings plan.

I firmly believe that how we think, followed by how we act, determines our success. In many respects, financial success is about learning, identifying and seizing opportunities. So, if our problem is between our ears, then let’s shake things up and look for some opportunities.

Here are four great ways to make your money work for you that you may have missed:

1. Educate yourself

Knowledge is power and if you’re seeking to build your savings, then financial smarts can tip the scales in your favour. Some people spend more time planning their family vacation than they do their finances. So, take the opportunity to take control - speak with a financial advisor, attend a seminar or take a course - but whatever you do, take action.

2. Renegotiate your credit card interest rate

This can be as simple as making a phone call. I know, I did it. My credit card interest rate decreased from 19.50% to 11.8% with a five-minute phone call. All I said to the customer service representative was, “This high interest rate isn’t going to work for me. What can we do about it?”

Do some research on best rates and you may be able to do better than I did. Check to see what your credit card company charges new customers. Chances are it’s lower than your rate. Better still, see what the competitors are up to. Knowledge is power.

3. Take advantage of your employer’s retirement savings plan

Benefits vary from plan to plan but may include:
  • Matching contributions. Depending on the features of your plan, your employer may match a certain percentage of your contributions. This is like receiving an annual bonus without even asking.
  • Tax savings. By contributing to your employer’s group RRSP, you’ll reap immediate tax savings, as your contributions will be made on a pre-tax basis. This is an advantage over an individual RRSP, where you only see the tax break as a refund at the end of the year.
  • Automatic deductions. Pay yourself first by having your RRSP contributions automatically deducted from your pay cheque and you’ll never know they’re gone.

4.Maximize your employer’s profit-sharing plan

Find out if your employer offers an employee profit-sharing plan (EPSP), which allows employees to share in the business profits. An EPSP can be a great way to maximize the rewards of your work efforts and build your nest egg. There are various stipulations and rules on how payments may be made, but it’s well worth asking about. After all, you need to know the game to play the game.

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