TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 13, 2012) - To mark Financial Literacy Month, BMO Financial Group is releasing a series of financial tips throughout November. As part of BMO's commitment to 'Making Money Make Sense', the tips are designed to help individuals and families save and manage their day-to-day finances more effectively.
BMO's Tip of the Day: As couples prepare for their wedding day, they should have "The Financial Talk" to help the transition from "my money" to "our money."
"Before two people get married, it's important that they have an open dialogue about their current finances and their respective saving and spending habits. This is the ideal time to start developing a financial plan as a couple, including identifying short and long-term investment goals," said Marlena Pospiech, Senior Retirement Strategist, BMO Financial Group. "It is especially helpful to have a financial professional at the table, not only to offer advice and assistance, but also to provide an objective point of view."
To ensure a "prosperous" relationship, new couples should take the time to discuss their financial future:
Address Debt: Communicate with each other the good and the bad, including any high-interest debt you may have. This will set a clear picture of how both of you stand financially and how you can work together to set priorities and eliminate debt.
Get On the Same Page: Establish how household expenses will be paid and how money will be managed. Also discuss your external investments and assets and ways to balance risk in your portfolios. Consider including a variety of products such as mutual funds, exchange traded funds (ETFs), guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) and bonds.
Be Honest: When purchasing your first home, be honest with your partner on what you can realistically afford and the sources of funding you will use for a down payment. Stress-test your budget using a mortgage payment based on a higher rate to make sure you can afford your purchase. Keep in mind that total housing costs (mortgage payments, property taxes, heating costs, etc.) should not take up more than one-third of your combined household income.
Be Tax Smart: Do some research into the tax benefits and implications of your new marital status. For example, the federal government considers your combined income to determine your eligibility for certain credits (e.g. GST/HST credit). Also, if one of you is in school, the student may be able to transfer some or all of the unused tuition and education amount to the working spouse to lower the overall household tax burden. Married couples are also able to combine medical expenses and charitable donations on one of the spouse's tax return. Note that many of the tax considerations that apply to married couples are also applicable to common law partners.
Make a Plan: Make sure that you both agree on your future investment goals and that, together, you consult a financial professional to help create a personalized financial plan that will get you there. Although it may seem far away, do not forget to discuss how you envision your ideal retirement lifestyle, and the steps you need to take - together - to get there. Contribute regularly to your Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP); this is a good time to consider Spousal RRSPs as well.
To learn more about saving and investing wisely, please visit www.bmo.com/smartinvesting or contact your BMO Bank of Montreal representative.
"CFEE commends BMO's ongoing efforts to support Financial Literacy in Canada and promote ways in which Canadians can increase their competence and confidence when managing their personal finances on a day-to-day basis," said Gary Rabbior, President, Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE).
BMO Financial Literacy Month Tips
November 1: Maximizing TFSA investments annually over 20 years can save nearly $30,000 in taxes.
November 2: Utilize rewards to squeeze the most value out of every dollar you spend this holiday season.
November 3: Choose an investment advisor who is right for you and will help you meet your financial goals.
November 4: Use your RRSP to help make the down payment on your first home.
November 5: Space out payments to avoid cash-flow problems.
November 6: Take advantage of the benefits of preferred shares.
November 7: Consider investing in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) and taking advantage of tax incentives when saving for retirement.
November 8: Take advantage of Canada's numerous online personal finance resources.
November 9: Before you head off on your winter vacation, be sure you and your family are properly covered in the event of a medical emergency.
November 10: Understand what you can hold in your RRSP.
November 11: Stick to the one-third rule when planning the purchase of a home.
November 12: Secure your retirement by opening a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) as early as possible and contribute to it on a regular basis.