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Five financial homework assignments for this summer

Five financial homework assignments for this summer

Nobody really feels like talking about money at this time of year. But now may be when you have the most free time to think about things with a clear head and take care of some business. Here are a few suggestions for a little summer homework.

Assignment 1
Go have a coffee
More specifically, go have a coffee (or just an unhurried conversation) with your financial security advisor and/or your mutual fund representative,* depending on your situation. Usually, people see this professional for a particular purpose (during RRSP season, for example), but a friendly conversation in a relaxed setting could bring up some unusual and useful ideas to better off  your financial situation.

Assignment 2
Review your computer security
Think it can’t happen to you? Take a look at this.

More vulnerable than ever

In just a few days, a simple bit of ransomware managed to hobble the computers of thousands of individuals, companies, hospitals, and other organizations. Still not convinced? According to the U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance, up to 60% of small and medium-sized American businesses that fall victim to cyberattacks close down within the following six months. In other words, our computers and mobile devices have become financial risks. The calmer summer months could be the perfect time to think about this, starting with changing usernames and passwords, and checking your network security, especially if you run a business.

Assignment 3
Take stock of your investments and insurance needs
Traditionally, people wait until the end of the year, or the start of the new year, to review their investment and insurance portfolios. But those tend to be particularly busy times of year, unlike summer, which lends itself more to thoughtful reflection. What would you say to a mid-year investment review, to see whether your asset allocation is still on target, or to assess your capital gains and losses so you can make some informed plans for the next six months? Now may also be a good time to see whether any life changes might justify some adjustments in your insurance coverage: Are you in a new relationship? Have you had a child? Changed jobs? Started a business? Retired? These and other changes affect your insurance needs.

Assignment 4
Update your estate plan
Is your will up to date? Was it drafted at the time of your marriage—or perhaps a previous marriage? Did you do it when you bought your first home? If there have been changes to your life or household, it could be important to take a new look at what you wrote back then, particularly if you are in a common-law union. In addition to the will, you might want to review your entire estate plan, which is intended to ensure the transfer of your assets to the heirs of your choice, as efficiently as possible, fiscally speaking. Which means you might want to take a look at your life insurance, too. Finally, given the changing legislation and public debate on the topic, you may want to think about your end-of-life directives.

Assignment 5
Develop a document management strategy
Are you one of those people who keep every piece of paper, just in case? Perhaps you need to do a little housekeeping in your file cabinet. Before rolling up your sleeves, take a look at this article from the April edition of Actualis.

Last, but not least, a bonus assignment:
Pay cash!
According to a recent study, we spend as much as 18% more when we use credit or debit cards, rather than cold, hard cash. So you might want to consider leaving the plastic in your wallet whenever possible. It’s just another way to stick to your budget.

With that, have a wonderful summer and enjoy doing your financial homework!

*Mutual funds are distributed through mutual fund representatives associated with SFL Investments in Québec and Desjardins Financial Security Investments Inc. in other provinces.

 

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The following sources were used in preparing this article.

L’actualité, Parlons de la fin (Let’s talk about the end), October 8, 2014. FastCompany, Get Ready For Your Computer To Be Taken Hostage, February 15, 2017. La Presse, Des pirates liés à Pyongyang probablement derrière WannaCry (Pirates connected to Pyongyang probably behind WannaCry), May 23, 2017; Ne mourez pas comme Prince ! (Don’t die like Prince!), May 16, 2016. Wise Bread, 10 Easy Ways to Get Your Finances Fit for Summer, May 3, 2016.