Your Road to Retirement: Let’s Chat about Financial Planning

I know, I know. The subject makes you want to turn and run, right? You’re not alone – I can think of very few people who actually enjoy the process of dissecting their spending and saving habits. But you know what? It’s truly not as painful as it seems, and today I’m here to show you (nay, convince you) why it’s the perfect time to sit down with a financial advisor. At Scotiabank, they offer this service for free with no minimum balance – so what do you have to lose?

First, let’s look at the calendar. March is creeping up on us! And in advance of the March 1st RRSP contribution deadline, it’s important to uncover where you are with your retirement savings, and where you want to be. Last week, I wasn’t all that certain.

You’ll remember from a previous post, Your Road to Retirement: What are Your Savings Goals for 2017? – I was once a smug saver. Today, I’m not as comfortable – with a brand new home (and brand new mortgage) on the horizon, I’ve been under mild stress (read: panic attacks) trying to figure out if I can afford to save. Rather than trying to crunch the numbers myself, last week, I visited my local Scotiabank branch and sat down with Simpreet Sivia, Senior Financial Advisor.
IMG_4206 (2)Here’s what I learned from my visit.

1. Overcome your fear of financial judgement. I get it. It’s hard to be so transparent with a stranger – even one who’s trying to help you sort through your finances. No one likes to have their spending habits judged; we’re all just trying to do what’s right for ourselves and our families. But the logical first step in the financial planning process is admitting that there’s room for improvement, and then, being open to advice.

2. Come ready to talk. Yes, you’ll talk about your spending and savings habits. But you’ll also talk about your family, your pets and everything else that’s important in your life. You’ll chat about your financial goals and your financial woes. The more honest you are about what’s putting financial pressure and stress on you, the more the financial advisor will be able to help you come up with a plan.

3. Bring bills, forms and documents to back it up. In my meeting with Simpreet, she told me that it is best to come prepared with a high level idea of your overall expenses; looking at 1-3 previous credit card and/or banking statements is often enough to give you a good snapshot into your spending habits. Don’t try to hide things – like that credit card balance or bank overdraft. Financial advisors can suggest ways to consolidate your debt so you can get on the road to saving.

4. Understand the role of the Financial Advisor. The advisors at Scotiabank are there to help you meet your financial goals – so if you’ve been hanging on to the misconception that they have ulterior motives when suggesting products and services, you can drop it, now. Scotiabank advisors are compensated through a salary (rather than relying on commission) and all fees associated with any transaction, account or investment are fully disclosed so there are no surprises. My advice? When it comes to investments, listen, ask questions (and more questions) and always, always be aware of 1) how you can access your money, 2) when you can access your money, and 3) if there is a fee associated with accessing your money before the term is up.

5. Follow up. Creating a financial plan is not a one-time deal. Expect to follow up with your financial advisor within a couple of months to see if you’re on track with what was set out for you, and every year thereafter to ensure that your financial situation reflects your short and long-term savings goals.

When you meet with a Scotiabank Financial Advisor to create a customized financial plan, you and your family will:

– Have a better understanding of your current financial situation
– Have a path to help you attain your goals
– Be better prepared for unexpected life events
– Work toward the things you’ve always dreamed of

Click here for a sample report.

With the RRSP deadline around the corner, and pressing financial obligations on the horizon, I worked with Simpreet to understand how I could find balance. I’ve always recognized the importance of saving for retirement, and with a customized financial plan, I have a clearer picture of how I can achieve my savings goals.

Have questions about your road to retirement? Check out a recent Facebook Live Chat I hosted with Neil MacDonald, Managing Director of Scotia Asset Management.

For more information on financial planning tools and range of investment options to choose from, visit
IMG_4212 (2)This post is sponsored by Scotiabank. The opinions on this blog, as always, are my own. This post is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be specific financial or tax advice.