Part of the job description for a personal finance columnist is to be an amateur economist. For that reason, I'm a big fan of the annual Maclean's list of the most important economic charts for the year to come.
The 2018 Maclean's list leads off my collection of financial intelligence that will help you better manage your money in the months ahead. Charts that caught my eye project a shocking rise in health care costs as our population ages, document the inexorable long-term increase in household debt and show the sad state of housing affordability.
Here's a list of essential tax numbers updated for 2018. Info here on the TFSA contribution limit for next year, tax credits for donations and medical expenses, OAS clawbacks and more.
Now for some investing predictions from Jack Bogle, an investing industry giant who has been an advocate for the everyday investor. The 88-year-old Mr. Bogle sees lower stock market returns ahead in the next decade and takes a skeptical view of impact investing, also known as sustainable or responsible investing.
A couple of Bloomberg columnists look back at some financial market trends from 2017 that make them nervous about 2018. To sum up, investors are too complacent.
If you have a financial planner, check out this guide to annual financial checkups. There's advice here on how to prepare for a meeting with your planner and what to expect.
Read this list of ways to be better with money in 2018 if you're looking at simple steps you can take to improve your overall financial health. One suggestion here is counter-intuitive: Buy more takeout and hire a maid. A study shows you can improve happiness by spending money to reduce stress about getting everything done. This list of money mistakes to avoid in 2018 is pitched to an American audience, but there are some useful ideas here for Canadians. Example: Buying too much house.
I'm including a list of the best business books of 2017 for two reasons – because there some financial books listed here, and so you can see the wide range of books that smart people in the financial sector have been reading.
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Today's featured financial tool
This calculator will help you add up all the various costs of buying a home – the purchase price plus legal fees, moving costs, home inspection and much more.
The question: "Are investments like Premium Income (PIC.A-TSX) safe? The yield is 10 to 11 per cent and it seems to have a long record."
The answer: A government of Canada bond or a guaranteed investment certificate covered by deposit insurance is safe. Premium Income is a split share corporation that holds bank stocks and uses a covered call strategy. An investment like this can be included in a diversified portfolio, but it's not safe like a bond or GIC. Generally, a high yield is a sign of investor concern about whether the dividend can be sustained.
Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can't answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.
In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance stories
– No defined benefit pension? How to save for retirement
– A five step plan to help university students manage their money
– Six leading experts on how to invest right now (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)
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