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Financial Fitness: It’s time for your checkup

December is a great time for a year-end financial checkup.

It is also the perfect time to meet with your financial adviser to discuss your current and future financial goals.

In addition to making sure you don’t miss any investment opportunities before 2013 wraps up, your adviser can work with you to develop tailored strategies to work toward your goals.

Portfolio checkup

A portfolio geared toward growth for retirement is different from a portfolio generating income while transitioning to or living in retirement. Talk to your financial adviser about your risk tolerance and portfolio mix.

RRSPs

Plan your total 2013 RRSP contribution and project your 2014 monthly RRSP payments.

You may have unused contribution room. Discuss funding strategies for your contributions—ranging from a systematic approach to savings options that allow you to take advantage of tax deferral benefits offered by RRSPs.

Special projects

Don’t forget to discuss strategies for special savings objectives, whether it’s registered education savings plans, registered disability savings plans, a home purchase or even retirement.

Protection

You never know what might throw your plans off track: significant market declines (especially in the early years of retirement), unexpected expenses, rising health-care costs, an untimely death in the family, or even living longer than expected. Your financial adviser can discuss ways for cutting expenses, increasing savings or using insurance to protect your strategy.

TFSAs

Apart from opening or contributing to a TFSA, if you’re planning a withdrawal, consider doing it before the end of 2013 rather than early 2014, since amounts withdrawn are not added to your contribution room until the beginning of the following year after the withdrawal. You can also fund your spouse’s contributions without attracting the attribution rules.

Your financial adviser can talk to you about whether it is beneficial to sell any non-registered investments before year-end to realize capital gains or losses.

For those nearing retirement, you may need to prepare to convert RRSPs into a RRIF, and consider a final contribution.

Payments to make before December 31

Certain payments must be made before year-end to be useful for tax purposes such as medical expenses, child-care fees, support payments, political donations, union or professional dues, tuition fees, and safety deposit box charges.

For RESPs, if your children or grandchildren are under 18, make sure you have contributed a minimum of $2,500 for each child before the end of the year to take advantage of the maximum Canada education savings grant, or CESG.

Certain conditions must be met for 16-to-17-year-olds to be eligible to receive the CESG.

Best wishes for a Happy Holiday season.

Deborah Leahy is an investment adviser with Edward Jones. Member Canadian Investor Protection Fund

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