It’s Time to Talk Openly About Family Finances and Addiction

It’s Time to Talk Openly About Family Finances and Addiction

Addiction is a huge problem in Canada. How big? Between January 2016 and June  2020, there were more than 17,602 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada, and this represents only a fraction of the overall problem of opioid addiction.

When you add an addiction to other drugs, as well as other types of addiction (e.g. gambling), the pervasiveness of this problem starts to become painfully clear.

Amid this enormously complex social dilemma, one of the heartbreaking challenges that families face is how to manage their finances when a family member is suffering from an addiction.

In this article, we shed light on this sensitive topic and highlight some strategies that may help with managing this situation.

Starting with open and honest communication

One of the biggest challenges related to addiction is that it tends to live in the shadows. The stigma surrounding addiction often silences the very people who are most in need of help, whether that’s the person with the addiction or their family and friends.

A key to overcoming this stigma is the creation of safe spaces for honest discussions. No judgment, no shame – just open conversations.

Some grandparents are becoming parents again. They have taken on the responsibility because the kids are no longer around ― they have overdosed, they have run away, or they are not fit. Their retirement plan is all of a sudden destroyed.  All of a sudden, they have to pay for college, and the cost of college is a pretty big shock compared to when their kids were growing up. When we look at increased withdrawals or spending habits, or unexplained lifestyle changes, one can see they are not thinking clearly, that their judgment is cloudy. They’ve got a lot of other things going on.

Given the financial implications that addiction can have on a family, financial advisors can play a role in having these difficult conversations. Sometimes there are financial red flags such as unusual withdrawals that can alert us to a possible problem; other times it might be just a feeling that something in the family dynamic is a bit off.

Either way, we can help by gently probing for answers and offering thoughtful support. Although addressing the actual addiction goes well beyond our scope of training or licensing, we may be able to recommend appropriate professionals and resources.

Mitigating harm with practical solutions

One area where we can provide direct assistance is in helping families manage their finances in a way that can mitigate the harmful impact of addiction.

For example, consider a family with a teenager who is struggling with addiction. If this teenager is set to receive a large inheritance upon reaching the age of majority, there can be serious concerns about what may happen if they suddenly have access to a large sum of money.

In this case, there are ways for the family to manage the disbursement of this money in a controlled way, including but not limited to:

  • Trusts – Trusts can be useful as a means of managing assets on behalf of an individual with an addiction and controlling the flow of money to them. While a family member can serve as the trustee who manages the trust, this can lead to tension in the family if the trustee has to make contentious decisions. Appointing a corporate trustee is sometimes a better alternative as this can help to separate family relationships from trust business.

  • Annuities – Annuities are another option for controlling the disbursement of money to a family member with an addiction by setting up fixed annual payments. Although they are less versatile than trusts, annuities can be more cost-effective.

 

As every family has unique circumstances and financial needs, we can work with them to understand the challenges they are facing and propose a customized strategy to protect their financial well-being while minimizing harm.

Getting help from a trusted advisor

Across Canada, hundreds of thousands of families grapple every day with the stress and anguish of seeing a family member suffering from addiction.

What’s crucial for these families to understand is that they are not alone and that help is available. Updating a trusted advisor about addiction in the family may involve uncomfortable conversations, but it can also be the catalyst that leads to positive changes and eventual solutions.

InvestmentNews did a survey in which 36% of the advisors who were polled said that their clients have been impacted by the opioid epidemic. Let me tell you why that number is very low and underreported: Clients are not telling their advisors that they are going through an issue. Going through addiction and substance abuse is so full of shame from the stigma. The only way to tackle a problem as pervasive as addiction is to work together. So let’s start the conversation.

Take Charge of Your Future with Financial Literacy

Take Charge of Your Future with Financial Literacy

Whatever your goals, dreams and challenges, financial literacy is a critical factor influencing what you can achieve in life.

Why? Because financial literacy can help you make smart decisions today that will shape your life and the opportunities you enjoy for decades to come.

As November is Financial Literacy Month, this is a good opportunity to highlight the meaning of financial literacy and show how it can positively impact your life.

Empowering your financial life

Being financially literate doesn’t mean you have to become an expert in financial matters.

However, it does mean getting to know the basics so you can ask relevant questions and have meaningful conversations with financial professionals.

Ultimately, becoming familiar with financial topics is about empowerment and being an active participant in the shaping of your financial future.

Financial literacy 101

Learning some of the fundamentals of personal financial management can go a long way in demystifying this important topic.

The following are some of the building blocks of financial literacy:

  • Managing your debt. Personal debt in Canada is at a record high, which is particularly concerning for younger Canadians who are growing up to see cheap debt as a way of life.
    • Financial literacy means understanding the impact of debt on your finances – including your credit score – and how different strategies can help you pay it off more quickly and at a lower overall cost.
  • Growing your wealth. Working hard in a job or running a business is only one part of the equation – there are many other factors that will influence the growth of your wealth during your lifetime.
    • Financial literacy means understanding how your income is taxed, learning how best to balance spending and saving, and identifying opportunities for growing your wealth through wise investment choices.
  • Protecting yourself and your family. The past year has clearly shown that life can throw unexpected curveballs, highlighting the importance of proactively safeguarding your financial well-being.
    • Financial literacy means understanding the role of life insurance as a powerful investment tool, the importance of disability and critical illness insurance for protecting your financial well-being, and the value of locking in lower insurance premiums when you are younger and healthier.
  • Working toward goals. A career can be incredibly rewarding in itself, yet it can also be a means to achieving any number of life goals.
    • Financial literacy means understanding the steps you can take now and throughout your career to help you achieve major goals, such as buying a house, starting a family, retiring early or engaging in philanthropy.

Adopting a holistic approach

Adopting a holistic approach to your finances means ensuring that all decisions and strategies are thoughtfully aligned with your current situation and future goals.

A base level of financial literacy – together with support from a trusted advisor – will help you put in place a comprehensive financial plan that covers all the bases and can evolve throughout your lifetime.

In addition to giving you greater peace of mind regarding your financial security, it will also leave you free to focus more time and energy on your family, your career and other important areas of your life.

Securing your financial future

Whatever your worries today and hopes for the future, boosting your financial literacy will empower you to move forward with greater confidence.

If you’d like to discuss your financial situation with a trusted advisor who can provide thoughtful guidance, please contact Rubach Wealth to schedule a call.

To discuss how greater understanding of your finances can get you on the right track to a better financial future, contact us contact us at info@www.rubachwealth.com or at 647.349.7070.

Achieving Financial Confidence During Retirement

Achieving Financial Confidence During Retirement

Everyone has their own vision of an ideal retirement. For some, it means escaping winter for warm climates and playing as much golf as possible. For others, it’s all about time with grandchildren, volunteer work or pursuing favourite hobbies.

One thing that no one wants in retirement is financial stress, yet that has been one of the by-products of the pandemic. The recent financial turmoil has been particularly worrisome for retired Canadians, as many of them depend on their investments to finance their retirement.

Going back to basics can help lift this cloud of uncertainty.

Meet Alice

At 67, Alice is loving retirement. She stopped working a few years ago following a successful career in media. Although she sometimes misses her former colleagues, she is thrilled overall to have more time for visiting family, playing tennis and travelling. The pandemic has put a damper on all three of these activities, but she’s optimistic about things gradually returning to normal.

That’s not to say that Alice is stress free. She knows the pandemic has wreaked havoc on stock markets, and she’s worried about how this will impact her financial situation. She wants to be sure that her money will not run out, which would bring a swift end to her golden years.

At the same time, Alice hopes to have the financial resources to support her children and grandchildren in the years ahead – and after she’s gone. Ultimately, what she would like is personalized support from someone she can trust to ensure her financial needs are met.

Overcoming uncertainty with financial planning

Alice enjoys her active retired life, but she has little interest in spending time and energy managing her finances. She’s more than happy to entrust this responsibility to someone else as long as she’s confident they have her best interests at heart.

If you see similarities between Alice’s situation and your own, here are three things that may help you achieve peace of mind regarding your personal finances during retirement:

  1. Discuss your concerns. One of the first steps in tackling the stress that comes from financial uncertainty is to talk about it. Rather than sweeping your concerns under the carpet, bring them out into the open. Gaining confidence in your financial situation begins with asking questions and seeking advice.

 

  1. Find a true partner. Meeting your unique financial needs requires help from someone who will take the time to understand them. It’s a bad sign if someone starts telling you what to do without first listening to what you want. A trusted advisor will listen carefully, advise thoughtfully and help you gain clarity.

 

  1. Keep things simple. Ensuring wealth preservation during retirement is important, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. With a clear understanding of your current situation and desired outcomes, the goal should be to draw as straight a line as possible between them. Minimizing complexity will minimize doubt.

A personalized approach

Retirement should be a joyful time as you enjoy the life, family and wealth you have worked hard to build. While the pandemic has introduced uncertainty, going back to basics with personalized financial guidance can help keep your retirement on track.

If you’d like to gain clarity regarding your financial situation, Rubach Wealth can help. Contact me today at elke@www.rubachwealth.com.

Together, we got this.

This blog post is part of Rubach Wealth’s Back to Basics series highlighting how focusing on financial planning fundamentals can help you stay on course toward your long-term goals during these uncertain times.

 

Simple Steps for Gaining Financial Confidence

Simple Steps for Gaining Financial Confidence

The pandemic has changed many things, not least of which is thrusting parents – especially mothers, it seems – into the role of homeschool support teacher. This is just one more responsibility being placed on the shoulders of working women who already had plenty to worry about.

Even before the pandemic, many working women in Canada lacked confidence in their financial situation. Now with increased economic uncertainty and a precarious employment environment, it is more important than ever for women to take control of their financial future.

The best place to begin is by going back to basics.

Meet Eve

At 42, Eve is thriving professionally as a partner at a law firm. Although her career progression was slowed down by two maternity leaves, Eve’s expertise and hard work are currently opening doors to exciting new opportunities.

On the home front, however, Eve is having a rough time. Having recently emerged from a messy divorce, she is doing her best to create a stable new home life for her two children. This is no easy task as she’s also juggling a heavy workload and strained relationships.

Given the recent upheaval in her life, Eve has become increasingly stressed out regarding her finances. In particular, she is concerned about whether she is saving enough for retirement and her family’s future needs – especially in light of the recent divorce. Although she is well paid by her law firm, Eve doesn’t have a good sense of whether she’s setting aside enough for the future and whether she’s doing it in a safe yet efficient way.

In her ideal scenario, Eve would like to have a clear yet hands-off plan for managing her finances so she can focus her thoughts and energy on excelling at work while building a new, happier home life with her children.

Gaining financial confidence

For Eve, gaining clarity and confidence regarding her finances would help take a weight off her shoulders. With a career and family to balance, she wants to ensure that her money is working hard for her and putting her on track to a secure future.

If you can relate to Eve’s situation, here are three actions that could help you take charge of your financial future.

  1. Make a plan. At its core, financial planning is about identifying where you want to go (in terms of finances, lifestyle and peace of mind) and making a clear plan for how to get there. It doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact, it’s better to keep things simple. What it does require is getting organized, reflecting on your priorities, and finding a trusted advisor to listen and provide guidance.

 

  1. Safeguard your finances. One of the main causes of financial stress is all the ‘what ifs.’ What if I lose my job? What if I fall ill? What if I need to financially support my parents? Financial planning can’t eliminate all the uncertainty, but it can help you achieve safer financial footing. What this looks like will depend on your unique situation, but it could include things like building up an emergency fund or topping up your group benefits with personal insurance coverage.

 

  1. Ask questions. This is your money and your life, so you deserve clarity in order to make informed decisions. If you’re uncertain about something related to your finances, simply ask. And if the person you ask won’t listen or can’t provide a clear answer, find someone else who will and who can. Life is way too short to waste on uncertainty or self-doubt – especially when your financial future is on the line.

Moving fearlessly forward

As we slowly return to a life resembling pre-pandemic days, one thing we should aim to ditch is the financial uncertainty that many working women grapple with. By going back to basics, women can boost their confidence that they’re on track for retirement – and any surprises life may throw at them.

If you’d like to discuss your financial situation and gain insights to help you move forward fearlessly, Rubach Wealth can help.  elke@www.rubachwealth.com

Together, we got this.

This blog post is part of Rubach Wealth’s Back to Basics series highlighting how focusing on financial planning fundamentals can help you stay on course toward your long-term goals during these uncertain times.

 

Guiding Millennials to a Brighter Financial Future

Guiding Millennials to a Brighter Financial Future

Before the pandemic struck, Millennials were already facing financial challenges with steady work sometimes hard to come by and housing prices often out of reach. The current situation is adding to the complexity that those currently in their early 20s to late 30s are being forced to navigate.

Fortunately, there’s plenty that Millennials can do to shift their finances in a positive direction – even in the midst of the ongoing crisis – and position themselves to thrive financially in the long term.

For a start, it helps to go back to basics.

Meet Alex

At 28, Alex is a few years into his career as a UX designer. He lives and works in downtown Toronto, where he usually makes the most of the city’s lively restaurant scene and nightlife (or he did, pre-COVID). Living close to the action for a minimal commute and maximum time with friends is important for Alex, so he’s saving up to buy his first condo in the city.

Alex is fortunate to have a job when so many across the country are currently out of work. His biggest challenge is that he’s fairly erratic in how he manages his finances. While he has a savings account where he sets aside money when he can toward a condo down payment, he doesn’t have any investments to speak of and racks up large credit card bills each month.

He’s clear on the lifestyle he envisions for himself in the years ahead, but not on how to achieve it.

A clear, simple plan

Alex is in a pretty good position, but he could be doing a fair bit better with a few strategic changes to his financial habits. And while we may be on the downslope of the current pandemic, applying long-term thinking to his money can put Alex in a better position to ride out future bumps in the road.

If Alex’s situation sounds familiar, here are three things you can consider to get on a better financial trajectory.

  1. Keep it simple. Financial planning doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as straightforward as figuring out how to set aside a bit of money each month to pay off debt and make small contributions to an investment account. With a simpler plan, you’re more likely to stay on track since you’ll understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

 

  1. Gain clarity. It may feel like everyone but you has their finances in order, but the reality is that many people have financial blind spots. If you’re feeling uncertain, one the of the best things you can do is ask questions and seek out advice.

 

  1. Start early. You already know that the sooner you start saving and investing, the better. What you may not realize is that even small amounts can make a huge difference over time, and that it’s never too late to start.

Putting in place a clear, simple plan can be beneficial for anyone who’s struggling with financial uncertainty. If you’re stressed out by the current situation and worried about the future, this is likely a good place to start.

Get on track

This pandemic will pass, yet new challenges are almost certain to arise in the years and decades ahead. For Millennials, living your desired lifestyle requires a proactive approach to ensure your finances can weather any future storm. This means going back to basics with a clear, simple and effective plan tailored to your unique needs.

If you’d like to discuss your financial goals and gain clarity on how to achieve them, Rubach Wealth can help. Contact us today at ww.www.rubachwealth.com

Together, we got this.

This blog post is part of Rubach Wealth’s Back to Basics series highlighting how focusing on financial planning fundamentals can help you stay on course toward your long-term goals during these uncertain times.

Staying on Course by Getting Back to Basics

Staying on Course by Getting Back to Basics

It feels like time has turned upside down during the pandemic. Working from home has disrupted our schedules, and the intense news cycle has us living our lives one day at a time. It’s hard to believe how much and how quickly things have changed since Canada went into lockdown only about six weeks ago.

Amid this uncertainty, it is no surprise that many people have adopted a short-term mindset. Yet it is precisely during times of day-to-day volatility that sticking with long-term strategies helps us avoid costly mistakes.

In the weeks ahead, we’ll be publishing a series of Back to Basics blog posts highlighting how focusing on financial planning fundamentals can help you stay on course toward your long-term goals during these uncertain times. In this first article of the series, we look at the big picture of what going back to basics means.

Proactive, not reactive

Sound financial planning is first and foremost proactive, not reactive.

If a major event such as the loss of a job disrupts your life, then of course it might significantly impact your finances and require you to take action. However, if your financial plan has prepared for such a contingency – for example, with an emergency fund to cover six months of living costs – you are less likely to be forced into costly decisions that are not in your long-term interest.

The booming stock markets in recent years lulled many of us into complacency, thinking only of the upside. The pandemic has brought those days to an abrupt end. It has also served as a reminder of the importance of proactively protecting our financial well-being with fundamentals such as diversification, insurance and long-term investing.

Different needs, different strategies

Our financial needs vary depending on our age, career stage, family situation and personal circumstances. Everyone is unique, so financial planning needs to be tailored to individual requirements.

This means that financial planning fundamentals should be customized to align strategically with your personal needs. For example:

  • Alex is 28, living and working in downtown Toronto, and saving up to buy his first condo. For Alex, financial planning fundamentals include putting in place a clear, simple plan aimed at growing his assets.
  • Eve is 42, has a thriving legal career and is concerned about saving enough for retirement. For Eve, financial planning fundamentals include safely investing for the future while freeing up more time to enjoy with her family.
  • Mike is 48, runs a profitable consulting firm and worries that his finances are not optimized. For Mike, financial planning fundamentals include identifying tax-efficient structures that will see more money staying in his pocket.
  • Alice is 67, loving retirement and eager to know that her money will not run out. For Alice, financial planning fundamentals include putting in place a plan for wealth preservation so she can enjoy peace of mind in her golden years.

Over the next four weeks, we’ll continue this Back to Basics series with a closer look at each of these four profiles.

We got this

The pandemic offers a powerful reminder of the value of going back to basics. Financial planning doesn’t have to be overly complicated, but it should be thoughtful, strategic and focused on the long term.

If the recent upheaval has you worried that you’ve missed your chance, don’t worry: it is never too late to embrace the fundamentals to stay on course toward your long-term goals.

If you’d like to discuss your situation and find out how Rubach Wealth can help, contact us at 647-349-7070. Together, we got this.